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Intra-Aortic Balloon Pump (IABP)


An intra-aortic balloon pump, also known as an IABP, is used to assist the heart to pump more blood around the body.

It also improves the delivery of oxygen to the heart.

Intra-Aortic Balloon Pump

How Does It Work?

The IABP is connected to a long catheter (tube) that is inserted via the groin using a small incision made under local anaesthetic. The catheter is then carefully guided up a large blood vessel until it is near the heart. The IABP machine is synchronised to the patient’s heart rhythm and pumps gas into a balloon at the end of this catheter. This balloon rhythmically inflates and deflates pushing blood forward around the body and also pushes blood back into the coronary arteries of the heart. In this way both the body and the heart get improved blood circulation and oxygen delivery.


How Long Will It Be Used For?

The IABP is a temporary solution to support a severely weak heart. It will usually only be used for a short time to stabilise a patient. The most common use for an IABP is if a patient has had a severe heart attack or is recovering from heart surgery.


Are There Any Complications?

All Intensive Care interventions and procedures carry a degree of potential risk even when performed by skilled and experienced staff. Please discuss these issues with the medical and nursing staff who are caring for the patient.


Any Questions?

Of course, if you have any questions or concerns, please discuss them with the ICU nurses and doctors.

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The information contained on this page is general in nature and therefore cannot reflect individual patient variation. In addition it reflects Australian intensive care practice which may differ from other countries. It is meant as a back up to specific information which will be discussed with you by the Doctors and Nurses caring for your loved one. ICCMU attests to the accuracy of the information contained here BUT takes no responsibility for how it may apply to an individual patient. Please refer to the full disclaimer.



Intra-Aortic Balloon Pump ~ Version 2.2
First published
January 2008
Revised November 2011
Reviewed by: Kay Johnson CNS  ICCMU

Last Updated on Friday, 04 November 2011 09:47