Femoral veno-arterial extracorporcal life support with minimal or no heparin

Sary F. Aranki*, David H. Adams, Robert J. Rizzo, Gregory S. Couper, Malcolm M. DeCamp, Daniel J. Fitzgerald, Lawrence H. Cohn

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Recent technological advances in cardiopulmonary bypass circuits achieving surface bonding with heparin have permitted prolonged extracorporeal life support (ECLS) in experimental studies without the use of systemic anticoagulation. Excessive bleeding and the need for massive transfusions after extended ECLS with systemic heparinization have often led to the development of sepsis and multisystem organ failure. The Carmeda bioactive surface circuit, along with a Bio-Medicus centrifugal pump (Bio-Pump) and the femoral veno-arterial route, were used successfully in 3 patients requiring ECLS between April 1992 and December 1992. In 2 patients the need for ECLS was acute allograft dysfunction after orthotopic cardiac transplantation with no evidence of cellular rejection. Both patients were receiving multiple inotropes and intraaortic balloon counterpulsation; their condition continued to deteriorate rapidly before the initiation of ECLS. The third patient failed to be weaned from cardiopulmonary bypass after myocardial rcvascularization for ischemic cardiomyopathy. Time on ECLS ranged from 57 to 128 hours. No systemic anticoagulation was used. One patient received no heparin, and the other 2 patients received intermittent heparin infusion to maintain an average activated clotting time of 195 and 214 seconds. Multisystem organ dysfunction present before initiation of ECLS was rapidly reversed, and all patients were weaned successfully without any immediate major complications. The ability to conduct prolonged ECLS without systemic anticoagulation and without repeat sternotomy opens new avenues for the use of this procedure in profound heart failure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)149-155
Number of pages7
JournalThe Annals of thoracic surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Surgery


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