Negative fluid displacement: An alternative method to assess patency of arterial line cannulation
Optimal flow rate with minimal pressure gradient is the goal of arterial cannulation for cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB). Misplacement of the arterial cannula or vascular pathology can lead to hemolysis or intimal damage with subsequent aortic dissection. The risk of dissection with aortic cannulation is low, 0.04-0.2% for ascending aortic cannulation and 0.2-3% for femoral cannulation. However, dissection-related mortality is significant. Common methods for assessing adequacy of arterial cannulation include minimal pressure when injecting 100-mL boluses and the presence of pulsation in the cannula. Using these techniques, misplacement of the cannula can be masked due to the small amount of volume that is transfused during the assessment. Displacement of fluid into a cannula that is in a false lumen or close to the intimal surface may not indicate a misplaced arterial cannula. Negative fluid displacement is an alternative method of evaluating the integrity of arterial cannulation. During retrograde arterial priming (RAP), fluid is drained from the arterial cannula into a collection bag. Absence of fluid return or a flow < 500 mL/minute is indicative of either arterial line occlusion or cannula misplacement. At this point, the arterial cannula can be repositioned prior to instituting CPB. Since using this technique in over 13000 bypass procedures, we have had only one dissection. This one event occurred during partial occlusion clamping of the ascending aorta. With increased use of femoral cannulation for minimally invasive cardiac surgical procedures, this RAP technique can enhance the perfusionist's and the surgeon's ability to safely perform bypass in the presence of higher dissection risk.