Systematic review finds Mechanical Circulatory Support Devices of benefit


Air Medical Journal has reported on the findings of a systematic narrative review of the literature regarding the safety and flight considerations for Mechanical Circulatory Support Devices during air medical missions. The report’s authors (Han Yao, MD, MSc, FRCPC, MD, MSc, FRCPC Han Yao MD, MSc, FRCPC Han Yao, Gordan Samoukovic, MD, MSc, FRCPC, FRCSC, Emidio Farias, RRT, BSc, B.A, MHSc. (Avi-Med), Sam Cimone, BSc, Michael Churchill-Smith, MD, FRCPC, Dev Jayaraman, MDCM, MPH, FRCPC) stated: “The air medical transportation industry has seen a steady rise in the use of mechanical circulatory support devices (eg, intra-aortic balloon pumps, ventricular assist devices, and extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) during transport missions, either for definitive management or repatriation. As these complex devices become more common, the industry will have to adapt to support their use in their clientele. The goal of this narrative review was to assess our current experiences regarding mechanical circulatory support devices in air medical transportation and to identify important factors to ensure successful transport.


We conducted a systematic search on MEDLINE and Embase using the following search terms: aeromedical transportation, air transportation, intra-aortic balloon pump, ventricular assist device, and extracorporeal membrane oxygenation. Results were cross-referenced to identify articles addressing both air medical transport and mechanical circulatory support devices.


After a systematic review of the available literature, 49 articles addressing mechanical support devices transported by rotary wing and fixed wing aircraft were reviewed. In summary, our review encompassed 811 total aerial transports (152 by balloon pumps, 12 by ventricular assist devices, and 647 by extracorporeal membrane oxygenation). We found air medical transportation with these devices carried out in the public, private, or military sectors, to be safe, with low rates of serious adverse events. Dedicated training sessions focused on device troubleshooting and problem-solving during transport, optimal medical crew composition, predeparture logistical preparations, and on-demand specialist consultation can improve mission success.


We report that air medical transportation of patients supported by mechanical circulatory support devices is safe. Complications can be mitigated by training and addressed either during the predeparture or in-transportation phase."


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