Watershed Phenomena during Extracorporeal Life Support and their Clinical Impact: a Systematic In Vitro Investigation

ESC Heart Fail. 2020 Jun 12. Online ahead of print

Using an in vitro mock circulation loop, we systematically investigated the impact of heart failure, extracorporeal support, and cannulation routes on the formation of flow phenomena and flow distribution in the arterial tree.

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Extracorporeal life support (ECLS) during acute cardiac failure restores haemodynamic stability and provides life‐saving cardiopulmonary support. Unfortunately, all common cannulation strategies and remaining pulmonary blood flow increase left‐ventricular afterload and may favour pulmonary congestion. The resulting disturbed pulmonary gas exchange and a residual left‐ventricular action can contribute to an inhomogeneous distribution of oxygenated blood into end organs. These complex flow interactions between native and artificial circulation cannot be investigated at the bedside: only an in vitro simulation can reveal the underlying activities. Using an in vitro mock circulation loop, we systematically investigated the impact of heart failure, extracorporeal support, and cannulation routes on the formation of flow phenomena and flow distribution in the arterial tree.