Downregulation of myocardial contractility via intact ventriculo-arterial coupling in the brain dead organ donor

G. Szabó, T. Hackert, V. Buhmann, A. Graf, C. Sebening, C. F. Vahl, S. Hagl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

22 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To test the hypothesis that altered loading conditions play a key role in hemodynamic instability and cardiac dysfunction in the brain dead (BD) organ donor. Methods: BD was induced by inflation of a subdural balloon catheter. In the first part of the study, left ventricular function was assessed in a canine in situ cross-circulated heart model (n=6). Pre- and afterload and coronary perfusion pressure were kept identical in all hearts throughout the experiment. In the second part of the study, hearts (n=6) were investigated in vivo allowing the interaction between left ventricular contractility and arterial load. Left ventricular pressure-volume loops were obtained by a combined conductance-pressure catheter and the slope of the endsystolic pressure-volume relationship (Ees), arterial elastance (Ea), stroke work (SW), pressure-volume area, ventriculo-arterial coupling ratio (VAC) and mechanical efficiency (Eff) were calculated. Results: Induction of BD led to a hyperdynamic response in both models with a significant increase of most hemodynamic parameters. In the in situ isolated heart model, left ventricular contractility returned to baseline without any further deterioration. In contrast, in the intact circulation the hemodynamic parameters declined significantly in comparison to baseline 4 h after BD (Ees: 4.07±0.51 vs. 8.06±1.09 mmHg/ml, P<0.05, Ea: 3.17±0.39 vs. 4.42±0.30 mmHg/ml, P<0.05). However, VAC (0.78±0.09 vs. 0.65±0.14 n.s.) and Eff (73.4±2.1 % vs. 76.8±3.7 %, n.s.) remained constant over the time. Conclusion: BD induction leads to an initial hyperdynamic reaction followed by hemodynamic instability. The facts that no cardiac dysfunction occurred if loading conditions were kept constant and the ventriculo-arterial coupling ratio and mechanical efficiency remained constant in the intact animal model indicate that decreased contractility reflects to decreased arterial elastance after brain death. Therefore, reduced contractile function after brain death at a decreased afterload may contribute to stroke work optimization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)170-176
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Journal of Cardio-Thoracic Surgery
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2001


  • Afterload
  • Brain death
  • Contractility
  • Ventriculo-arterial coupling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine

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