The cardiac surgeon is faced with RV failure in two main situations: in isolation or in patients with left-sided cardiac assist. Adequate volume loading, correction of acidosis and oxygenation, cardiac pacing, pharmacologic agents, and systemic intra-aortic balloon pumping allow stabilization in most of these patients. When these measures fail, some form of mechanical assistance of the right ventricle becomes necessary. Balloon counterpulsation in the pulmonary artery improved RV output but does not restore the systemic perfusion if the right ventricle is profoundly depressed. When the right ventricle is profoundly depressed, a mechanical assist pump is the only device capable of restoring systemic perfusion. Like the left ventricle, the right ventricle, given time and support, can recover enough function to allow weaning from the assist device and survival.
ASJC Scopus subject areas