Intra-Aortic Balloon Pump

Although there are newer devices out there to augment cardiac function and serve as temporary ventricular assist devices, the mainstay device is still the Intra-Aortic Balloon Pump (IABP). It’s a relatively straightforward system using a balloon inflating and deflating in the aorta in time with the cardiac cycle and it offers both unloading of the LV and enhancement of coronary perfusion. Over the years, the technology of these devices has improved dramatically. When I was a CVICU nurse back in the day, we used to have to constantly adjust the timing on the pumps to maximize the effectiveness. Nowadays, the computer processing is so good, in my experience, it’s really hard to improve on the timing. But, it’s still good to know how, and how to troubleshoot the device.

This Twitter thread from Matt DiMeglio (@Matt_DiMeglio) does a great job of reviewing how the IABP works, the physiology behind Intra-Aortic Balloon Counterpulsation (why the IABP helps), what the waveforms mean, what the alarms mean, how to troubleshoot, and generally everything you need to know about IABP while on your Cardiac ICU rotation. These devices will be found in CCUs as well as CVICUs, and I’ve even used them in the NSICU! This is a great thread to read and bookmark for the next time you find yourself dealing with the balloon pump.

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