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Intra-aortic Balloon Counterpulsation Pump


An intra-aortic balloon counterpulsation pump (IABP) is a device that is used for a short time to help your heart work normally. It allows more blood to flow into your heart and more blood to be pumped out to your body.


The week before your procedure:

  • Write down the correct date, time, and location of your procedure.
  • Arrange a ride home. Ask a family member or friend to drive you home after your surgery or procedure. Do not drive yourself home.
  • Ask your healthcare provider if you need to stop using aspirin or any other prescribed or over-the-counter medicine before your procedure or surgery.
  • Tell your healthcare provider if you have bleeding problems or are taking medicines such as blood thinners.
  • You may need tests such as an angiography or Doppler to check your blood vessels. Ask your healthcare provider for more information about these or other tests you may need. Write down the date, time, and location of each test.

The night before your procedure:

Ask healthcare providers about directions for eating and drinking.

The day of your procedure:

  • Ask your healthcare provider before taking any medicine on the day of your procedure. These medicines include insulin, diabetic pills, high blood pressure pills, or heart pills. Bring a list of all the medicines you take, or your pill bottles, with you to the hospital.
  • 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.
  • Healthcare providers may insert an intravenous tube (IV) into your vein. A vein in the arm is usually chosen. Through the IV tube, you may be given liquids and medicine.
  • 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 decrease or prevent pain during the procedure. 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, your healthcare provider will choose a different blood vessel. The catheter may be put in through your chest and into your aorta. Your healthcare provider will use a type of x-ray called fluoroscopy to watch the catheter as it is inserted. He will also use it to 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. Do not get out of bed until your healthcare provider says it is okay. You will need to lie flat in bed for a few hours. If the catheter was inserted in your groin, keep your leg on that side straight. Do not move your leg. 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. The bandages used to cover your stitches keep the area clean and dry to help prevent infection. Healthcare providers may remove the bandage soon after your procedure to check the area.


  • You cannot make it to your procedure on time.
  • 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 your surgery.

Seek Care Immediately if

  • Your symptoms get worse.


You may have bleeding, an infection, or trouble breathing. You may get a blood clot in your leg or arm. This may become life-threatening. 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. If you do not have this procedure, poor blood flow in your heart or heart failure may worsen. This could be life-threatening.

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.

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2018 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or IBM Watson Health

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.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Intra-aortic Balloon Counterpulsation Pump (Precare)

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