• Although the intra-aortic balloon pump (IABP) saves many lives, complication rates as high as 36% have been reported. Many of the complications require surgical attention. In 794 patients of the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, an IABP was inserted into either the femoral or iliac artery between Nov 1, 1968, and June 30, 1981. Eighty-seven major vascular complications occurred in 70(8.8%) of them. Of those 70 patients, 95% denied previous symptoms of vascular disease, and 78% had had normal pulses before insertion. The two most common complications were limb ischemia (n=36) and arterial trauma (n=20). Other complications included sepsis (n=14), wound problems (n=10), and hemorrhage (n=7). No limbs were lost. Analysis of each group of complications allowed specific conclusions to be drawn concerning prevention, early diagnosis, and the most appropriate treatment.
(Arch Surg 1983;118:957-962)