The entire field of temporary circulatory support, which usually employs intra-aortic balloon pumping, has been greatly widened by the development of new methods of treating myocardial infarction. These methods include lysis of thrombi with intracoronary streptokinase infusion, often followed by prompt coronary bypass. Four important reports on the field are presented in this symposium.
The group from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, led by W. G. Austen, MD, pioneered the clinical use of the intra-aortic balloon pump. Perler et al report their experience with 794 patients treated during a 12- to 13-year period, one of the most extensive experiences in the world. The importance of balloon pumping is clearly indicated by the fact that about 5,000 balloons are inserted each year. With the standard approach, complications occur in 5% to 8% of patients, and most can be effectively treated. No extremities were lost in the entire series. The balloon was