Definition of Intra – Aaortic Balloon Pump (IABP)

Intra - Aaortic Balloon PumpIntra-aortic balloon pump (IABP) – a method to relieve strain on the heart when there is significant damage to the heart such as after a major heart attack, in end-stage heart failure while awaiting heart transplantation, or in cardiovascular shock.

Such circumstances result in the heart being unable to pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs. IABP counterpulsation helps pull blood through the aorta, assisting the left ventricle’s pumping efforts.

The cardiologist inserts the IABP on the tip of a catheter during a cardiac catheterization, threading it through a small incision in a major peripheral artery near the surface of the skin, such as the femoral artery in the groin or the brachial artery in the upper arm.

The IABP rests in the root of the aorta, its inflated balloon cuff holding it firmly in place. An inner ringlike balloon forms the inside channel of the IABP, inflating and deflating in synchronization with the cardiac cycle.

The channel narrows as the IABP inflates during diastole (filling of the ventricles) and widens as the AIBP deflates during systole (contraction of the ventricles).

The effect is to pull blood into the aorta at the same time the left ventricle pumps blood out, easing the amount of pressure necessary to move the blood.

A computer closely monitors the heart’s electrical patterns to precisely time the inflation and deflation of the IABP’s inner balloon.

See also ENHANCED EXTERNAL COUNTERPULSATION (EECP).

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