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March 1959

Venoarterial Pumping for Relief of Intractable Cardiac Failure in Man

Author Affiliations

From the Tufts Medical Services and Circulation Laboratory, Boston City Hospital; The Department of Medicine, Tufts University School of Medicine, and the Thoracic Surgical Service, Boston City Hospital. Present Address: The Presbyterian Hospital, Philadelphia.

AMA Arch Surg. 1959;78(3):418-421. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1959.04320030062011

The use of mechanical substitutes for the heart to pump blood from the great veins to the aorta in congestive failure has been proposed,1,2 and a heart-lung machine has been used in the support of patients with myocardial infarction.3 Experimental work suggests that acute heart failure in animals may be relieved by venoarterial pumping without an oxygenator.4 Our own animal studies5 have shown that it is possible to pump about half the systemic venous return into the lower aorta without significant impairment of the oxygen supply to the vital organs. In normal animals the cardiac output is reduced by this procedure, and there may be an increase in the total systemic blood flow. Venoarterial pumping has been maintained for as long as 53 hours in a dog without serious effects and with subsequent survival.

The present paper reports our experience with the first human case.