Warm heart surgery: Experience with long cross-clamp times

Samuel V. Lichtenstein, James G. Abel, Anthony Panos, Arthur S. Slutsky, Tomas A. Salerno

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Although hypothermic cardioplegic arrest prolongs the period of ischemic arrest by reducing oxygen demands, it leaves the heart dependent solely on anaerobic metabolism for its energy demands and exposes it to the detrimental effects of hypothermia. Consequently, myocardial protection is compromised, and safe aortic occlusion time is limited to 120 minutes. As electromechanical arrest accounts for 90% of myocardial oxygen consumption, we hypothesized that an ideal state of the heart might be chemically arrested and perfused with warm blood, ie, aerobic arrest. We applied this approach to myocardial protection in 308 consecutive procedures. To assess the adequacy of this method, we reviewed the results in a group of 22 patients in whom the aortic cross-clamp time was, of necessity, greater than or equal to 3 hours (mean time, 204 minutes; range, 180 to 393 minutes). Nineteen of the patients represented a high operative risk with grade 3 or 4 left ventricular function and New York Heart Association class III or IV. All hearts resumed spontaneous normal sinus rhythm without defibrillation, and 21 patients were easily weaned from bypass within minutes of removal of the aortic cross-clamp without inotropic or intraaortic balloon pump support. Mortality was 4.5%, low-output syndrome occurred in 4.5%, and there were no perioperative myocardial infarctions. Our results suggest that warm aerobic arrest is safe and effective in prolonged high-risk procedures, virtually eliminating the period of ischemia, limiting the period and injury of reperfusion, and abolishing the detrimental effects of hypothermia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1009-1013
Number of pages5
JournalThe Annals of thoracic surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1991
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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