IABP is used for very seriously ill patients. It helps the patient’s heart to pump more blood. This apparatus is used only for a short duration, but it is like a defensive wall between life and death for very ill patients.
Cardiogenic shock is a condition where the heart has become so weak, that it pumps very little blood. The patient’s body tissue does not get enough blood for survival. The patient’s blood pressure falls. His hands and feet become cold and clammy. Without emergency medical treatment such patients die.
In such cases, the IABP is lifesaving till either the patient gets better or the heart’s pumping is improved by an Angioplasty or a Bypass Operation.
IABP is used before or after major heart surgery to support weak hearts. Many a time, very ill patients are kept on the IABP for a short while to save their lives.
In patients who are awaiting Bypass Operation or an Angioplasty and who have major coronary artery blocks, IABP improves coronary circulation.
How does it work?
The IABP system consists of a catheter connected to the IABP machine. There is an eight inch long balloon at the tip of the catheter, which can be rapidly inflated and deflated.
The IABP catheter is inserted into the femoral artery in the groin under local anaesthesia. The patient is conscious while this is done.
The catheter is pushed into the femoral artery and then the aorta till its inflatable tip lies in the aorta. Its other tip is connected to the IABP.
The balloon at the tip of the IABP catheter is inflated and deflated in synchronicity with the heart by the IABP machine connected to the balloon. The balloon inflates exactly during the stationary period in the beginning of every heart beat. This inflation within the aorta increases blood pressure within the aorta, which increases blood flow to the coronary arteries and other vital organs of the body. The IABP also reduces the load on the heart.
IABP is an essential tool in very seriously ill patients. It helps save their lives.