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Intra-Aortic Balloon Counterpulsation Pump

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Dec 2, 2022.


An intra-aortic balloon counterpulsation pump (IABP) is a device used for a short time to help your heart work normally. You may need an IABP if you have severe heart failure or other heart problems. Healthcare providers will watch your condition and tell you when the IABP should be removed.

Heart Chambers


The week before your procedure:

  • Arrange to have someone drive you home after you are discharged.
  • Tell your provider about all medicines you currently take. He or she will tell you if you need to stop any medicine for the procedure, and when to stop. He or she will tell you which medicines to take or not take on the day of your procedure.
  • Tell your healthcare provider if you have bleeding problems or are taking medicines such as blood thinners.
  • You may need tests to check your blood vessels.

The night before your procedure:

You may be told not to eat or drink anything after midnight.

The day of your procedure:

  • You or a close family member will be asked to sign a legal document called a consent form. It gives healthcare providers permission to do the procedure or surgery. It also explains the problems that may happen, and your choices. Make sure all your questions are answered before you sign this form.
  • Take only the medicines your healthcare provider told you to take.
  • Healthcare providers may insert an intravenous tube (IV) into your vein. A vein in the arm is usually chosen. You may be given liquids or medicine through the IV.
  • An anesthesiologist will talk to you before your surgery. You may need medicine to keep you asleep or numb an area of your body during surgery. Tell healthcare providers if you or anyone in your family has had a problem with anesthesia in the past.


What will happen:

  • You will get medicine to prevent pain. A small incision will be made through the skin in your groin and into the artery beneath the skin. If the artery in your groin cannot be used, the catheter may be put in through your chest and into your aorta. Your healthcare provider will check that the catheter is in the correct place.
  • A plastic graft (small tube) will be put into the artery to hold it open. A catheter will be threaded through the artery until it enters the aorta, and is near your heart. When the catheter is in place, the graft will be removed, and the catheter will be left in your aorta. The end of the catheter will be secured to your skin to stop it from coming out. The area will be covered with bandages.

After your procedure:

You will be taken to a room to rest. Healthcare providers will monitor you closely for any problems. When healthcare providers see that you are okay, you may be taken to your hospital room.


  • You have a fever.
  • You get a cold or the flu.
  • You have a skin infection or an infected wound near the area where the catheter will be put in.
  • You have questions or concerns about the procedure.


You may develop bleeding, an infection, or trouble breathing when the catheter is inserted. You may develop a life-threatening blood clot. Blood flow to your leg may get blocked. This could cause the tissue in your leg to die. The tissue may need to be removed. The IABP balloon may burst inside your aorta, and the air inside the balloon may leak out. You may have chronic (long-term) pain, even with an IABP. The IABP may not help your heart condition.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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