Systemic hypothermia and circulatory arrest combined with arterial perfusion of the superior vena cava. Effective intraoperative cerebral protection

Bruce W. Lytle*, Patrick M. McCarthy, Kevin M. Meaney, Robert W. Stewart, Delos M. Cosgrove

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


We have used retrograde arterial perfusion of the superior vena cava as an adjunct to deep hypothermia and systemic circulatory arrest for intraoperative cerebral protection in 43 adult patients (18 of whom were 70 years old or older). The indications for the use of circulatory arrest were thoracic aortic operations (37 patients) and atherosclerosis or calcification of the ascending aorta (6 patients) in patients needing aortic valve or coronary operations. In all patients systemic hypothermia (16° to 18° C) was achieved with cardiopulmonary bypass and the systemic arterial circulation was arrested. Retrograde arterial perfusion of the superior vena cava was established through a wire-reinforced venous cannula (with a superior vena cava tourniquet) at a temperature of 15° C. In 36 patients a separate roller pump system was used for the retrograde cerebral perfusion. Central venous pressure was monitored at 25 to 30 mm Hg; mean flow rate was 250 ml/min. Periods of circulatory arrest and retrograde cerebral perfusion ranged from 4 to 110 minutes (mean 38 minutes), and for seven patients the period of circulatory arrest was longer than 60 minutes. Four postoperative deaths occurred, one related to stroke in a patient who had an aortic dissection during coronary surgery and the others related to noncerebral complications. Three nonfatal cerebral complications occurred, although all had completely resolved by late follow-up. Advantages of retrograde cerebral perfusion are (1) simplicity of use and avoidance of vascular trauma, (2) excellent exposure, (3) retrograde flow that minimizes embolization of air and atherosclerotic debris, and (4) effective cerebral oxygen delivery. Retrograde cerebral perfusion appears to be an important adjunct to hypothermia and circulatory arrest not only for patients undergoing operation for ascending aorta and aortic arch disease but also for patients with diffuse aortic atherosclerosis undergoing coronary or valve operations. (J THORAC CARDIOVASC SURG 1995;109:738-43).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)738-743
Number of pages6
JournalThe Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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