An intra-aortic balloon pump (IABP) is a mechanical device
that helps the heart pump blood.
This device is inserted into the aorta, the body's largest artery. It is a long, thin
tube called a catheter with a balloon on the end of it. If you are hospitalized, your doctor may insert an IABP. Your doctor will
numb an area of your leg and thread the IABP through the femoral artery in your
leg into your aorta. He or she then positions the IABP at the center of your
aorta, below your heart.
The doctor will use an X-ray machine
during this procedure to help accurately position the IABP.
An IABP is only used for a short period of time
(hours to days). A long-term treatment will likely be needed, such as valve surgery or the insertion of a left ventricular assist device (LVAD).
How does it work?
The IABP reduces the workload
on your heart, allowing your heart to pump more blood. The IABP
is placed inside your aorta, the artery that takes blood from the heart to the rest of the body. The balloon on the end of the catheter inflates
and deflates with the rhythm of your heart. This helps your heart pump blood to the body.
The IABP improves the function
of only your left ventricle, since this is the chamber that pumps blood into
your aorta. Here's how an IABP works:
left ventricle has finished contracting, the balloon inflates. This inflation
helps increase blood flow to the heart and the rest of the body.
As your left ventricle is about to pump out blood, the balloon
deflates. This deflation creates extra space in the aorta, allowing the heart
to pump out more blood. This decreases the workload on the heart.
What are the risks?
IABPs cause some side effects. An IABP can cause
an infection in your bloodstream if it is used for too long. The balloon may
overinflate and tear your aorta.
IABP treatment is also
inconvenient. You must lie extremely still in your hospital bed if you have one
of these devices in place.