The effect of left-to-right shunting on coronary oxygenation during extracorporeal membrane oxygenation

T Nakamura, M Takata, M Arai, S Nakagawa, K Miyasaka
Journal of Pediatric Surgery 1999, 34 (6): 981-5

BACKGROUND/PURPOSE: Blood perfusion to the coronary artery (CA) during venoarterial (VA) extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) was examined to determine whether it was receiving highly oxygenated ECMO blood or desaturated blood from the pulmonary circulation of diseased lungs.

METHODS: In the first experiment, left ventricle output and oxygen saturation in the left ventricle (LV) and CA were measured in dogs placed on VA ECMO. In the second experiment, dogs with an artificial subclavian-pulmonary artery shunt were placed on VA ECMO at 100 mL/kg/min, and oxygen saturation was measured as the shunt flow increased.

RESULTS: Without an artificial shunt, a substantial portion of coronary perfusion was found to be supplied by the left ventricle (54 + 30%), even at a high ECMO flow rate of 100 mL/kg/min and low LV output (22+/-17%) relative to ECMO flow. With a shunt, oxygen saturation in the CA was more than 95%, even when shunt flow was only 7.5% of ECMO flow and output from the left ventricle was less than 25% of the ECMO flow rate.

CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest that an excessive "lung rest" strategy during VA ECMO may produce suboptimal coronary oxygenation possibly leading to myocardial damage. The presence of a small left-to-right shunt may prevent coronary hypoxia.

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