Palliative shunts in congenital heart disease patients are vulnerable to thrombotic occlusion. High mechanical index (MI) impulses from a modified diagnostic ultrasound (US) transducer during a systemic microbubble (MB) infusion have been used to dissolve intravascular thrombi without anticoagulation, and we sought to determine whether this technique could be used prophylactically to reduce thrombus burden and prevent occlusion of surgically placed extracardiac shunts. Heparin-bonded ePTFE tubular vascular shunts of 4 mm×2.5 cm (Propaten; W.L Gore) were surgically placed in 18 pigs: a right-sided side-to-side arteriovenous (AV, carotid-jugular) shunt, and a left-sided arterio-arterial (AA, carotid-carotid) interposition shunt in each animal. After shunt implantation, animals were randomly assigned to one of 3 groups. Transcutaneous, weekly 30-minute treatments (total of 4 treatments) of either guided high MI US+MB (Group 1; n=6) using a 3% MRX-801 MB infusion, or US alone (Group 2; n=6) were given separately to each shunt. The third group of 6 pigs received no treatments. The shunts were explanted after 4 weeks and analyzed by histopathology to quantify luminal thrombus area (mm2) for the length of each shunt. No pigs received antiplatelet agents or anticoagulants during the treatment period. The median overall thrombus burden in the 3 groups for AV shunts was 5.10 mm2 compared with 4.05 mm(2) in AA (P=0.199). Group 1 pigs had significantly less thrombus burden in the AV shunts (median 2.5 mm2) compared with Group 2 (median 5.6 mm2) and Group 3 (median 7.5 mm2) pigs (P=0.006). No difference in thrombus burden was seen between groups for AA shunts. Transcutaneous US with intravenous MB is capable of preventing thrombus accumulation in arteriovenous shunts without the need for antiplatelet agents, and may be a method of preventing progressive occlusion of palliative shunts.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine