• Vascular injury or occlusion from intra-aortic balloon pumping (IABP) that results in actual or potential limb ischemia occurs more frequently than reported. In a series of 79 IABP patients, 36 lived long enough to have the balloon catheter removed; thirteen (36%) of them had vascular complications. The complications were in three patients with an injury at the insertion site, eight patients with arterial thromboses, and two with arterial occlusion by the large balloon catheter. Local artery revision, thrombectomy alone, or thrombectomy with femorofemoral cross-over grafting was required in 11 patients. Femorofemoral crossover graft was utilized when arterial occlusion would have ordinarily required premature balloon removal or when immediate arterial occlusion by the catheter was recognized at the time of balloon insertion. This was preferable to transferring, replacing, or discontinuing IABP, since the same factors that led to thrombosis in the first place would have eventually come into play again. Patients should be observed frequently and have Doppler limb pulse determinations every four hours to avoid ischemic catastrophies. Proper IABP weaning and the use of a Fogarty catheter at the time of balloon removal is mandatory to prevent complications. Femorofemoral crossover graft is indicated for ischemic limbs when IABP must be continued.
(Arch Surg 111:1190-1195, 1976)