Despite the progress accomplished in the field of off-pump heart surgery, the vast majority of cardiac operations are still performed with the use of extracorporeal circulation, otherwise known as “heart-lung machine.” This valuable tool, however, is connected with various complications, partly deriving from the application of intravenous heparin, necessary for the extracorporeal circuits to function. In order to deal with these complications, which among others include postoperative hemorrhage and systemic inflammatory response, several extracorporeal circulation systems, which contain a heparin-coating on their blood-contacting surfaces, have been developed with patents. The philosophy behind the creation of these systems is that with the controlled absorption and interaction of this heparin with the blood elements, adequate intraoperative anticoagulation with lower doses of systemic heparin and fewer systemic complications can be achieved. The idea of the use of heparin coatings has also been applied in other settings, such as in renal dialysis catheters, ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation), MECC (minimized extracorporeal circulation) and left ventricle assist devices.
Keywords: Heparin, heart surgery, extracorporeal circulation, postoperative hemorrhage, systemic inflammatory response, bioactive surface, &, heart-lung machine
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