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Open Access Highly Accessed Research

Acute and critically ill peripartum cardiomyopathy and 'bridge to' therapeutic options: a single center experience with intra-aortic balloon pump, extra corporeal membrane oxygenation and continuous-flow left ventricular assist devices

Sofie Gevaert1*, Yves Van Belleghem2, Stefaan Bouchez3, Ingrid Herck4, Filip De Somer2, Yasmina De Block12, Fiona Tromp1, Els Vandecasteele1, Floor Martens4 and Michel De Pauw1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Cardiology, Heart Center, Ghent University Hospital, De Pintelaan 185, 9000 Ghent, Belgium

2 Department of Cardiac Surgery, Heart Center, Ghent University Hospital, De Pintelaan 185, 9000 Ghent, Belgium

3 Department of Anesthesiology, Heart Center, Ghent University Hospital, De Pintelaan 185, 9000 Ghent, Belgium

4 Department of Intensive Care, Heart Center, Ghent University Hospital, De Pintelaan 185, 9000 Ghent, Belgium

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Critical Care 2011, 15:R93  doi:10.1186/cc10098

Published: 10 March 2011

Abstract

Introduction

Peripartum cardiomyopathy (PPCM) patients refractory to medical therapy and intra-aortic balloon pump (IABP) counterpulsation or in whom weaning from these therapies is impossible, are candidates for a left ventricular assist device (LVAD) as a bridge to recovery or transplant. Continuous-flow LVADs are smaller, have a better long-term durability and are associated with better outcomes. Extra corporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) can be used as a temporary support in patients with refractory cardiogenic shock. The aim of this study was to evaluate the efficacy and safety of mechanical support in acute and critically ill PPCM patients.

Methods

This was a retrospective search of the patient database of the Ghent University hospital (2000 to 2010).

Results

Six PPCM-patients were treated with mechanical support. Three patients presented in the postpartum period and three patients at the end of pregnancy. All were treated with IABP, the duration of IABP support ranged from 1 to 13 days. An ECMO was inserted in one patient who presented with cardiogenic shock, multiple organ dysfunction syndrome and a stillborn baby. Two patients showed partial recovery and could be weaned off the IABP. Four patients were implanted with a continuous-flow LVAD (HeartMate II®, Thoratec Inc.), including the ECMO-patient. Three LVAD patients were successfully transplanted 78, 126 and 360 days after LVAD implant; one patient is still on the transplant waiting list. We observed one peripheral thrombotic complication due to IABP and five early bleeding complications in three LVAD patients. One patient died suddenly two years after transplantation.

Conclusions

In PPCM with refractory heart failure IABP was safe and efficient as a bridge to recovery or as a bridge to LVAD. ECMO provided temporary support as a bridge to LVAD, while the newer continuous-flow LVADs offered a safe bridge to transplant.