Ardehali, A., R. N. Gates, H. Laks, D. C. Drinkwater Jr., E. Rudis, T. J. Sorensen, P. Chang and A. Aharon. The regional capillary distribution of retrograde blood cardioplegia in explanted human hearts. J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 109:935-9; discussion 939-40., 1995.
Warm retrograde blood cardioplegia is frequently used for myocardial protection, despite experimental studies questioning the adequacy of capillary flow to the right ventricle and septum. The capillary distribution of retrograde blood cardioplegia in the human heart is unknown. Hearts from eight transplant recipients with the diagnosis of idiopathic or dilated cardiomyopathy were arrested in situ with cold blood cardioplegia and excised with the coronary sinus intact. Within 20 minutes of explanation, colored microspheres mixed in 37 degrees C blood cardioplegia were administered through the coronary sinus at a pressure of 30 to 40 mm Hg for 2 minutes. Twelve transmural myocardial samples were taken horizontally at the level of midventricle and apex to determine regional capillary flow rates. When retrograde warm blood cardioplegia was administered at a rate of 0.42 +/- 0.06 ml/gm/min, the left ventricle, the septum, the posterior wall of the right ventricle, and the apex consistently received capillary flow rates in excess of their metabolic requirements. The capillary perfusion of anterior and lateral walls of the right ventricle was marginally adequate to sustain aerobic metabolism. In explanted human hearts, retrograde blood cardioplegia provides adequate capillary flow to the left ventricle, the septum, the posterior wall of the right ventricle, and the apex; however, capillary flow to the anterior and lateral walls of the right ventricle is marginal. This study delineates the tenuous balance between supply and demand for right ventricular protection with warm continuous retrograde blood cardioplegia.