Objective: Cardiomyoplasty represents a controversial therapy for chronic heart failure. The aim of this study is to review our experience of such a surgical procedure as an isolated approach to treat refractory left ventricular dysfunction. Methods: Twenty-two patients were considered candidates for cardiomyoplasty because of chronic heart failure. Mean age was 58.7 ± 5.3 (range 48-71 years), 19 patients were male and 3 were female. Ischemic or idiopathic etiology was present in 11 cases, respectively. Traditional as well as innovative techniques were used to assess hemodynamic function. Pre-operative hemodynamic profile included mean left ventricular ejection fraction of 20 ± 5.8% (9-28%), absence of severe right ventricular failure, and mean left ventricular end-diastolic diameter of 75.5 ± 7.4 mm (range 61-92 mm). All patients were in New York Heart Association Class III or Intermittent TV despite conventional medical therapy. Results: There was no intra-operative death. No additional surgery was performed. Left latissimus dorsi (LD) muscle was used in 20 cases, and right LD in two patients. Early mortality occurred in one patient (low cardiac output syndrome), whereas late mortality in five patients (three sudden deaths, one lung cancer, one heart failure). Mean follow-up is 20.7 ± 16.7 months (3-51 months). Actuarial survival at 4 years is 70%. Cardiac index increased at 6 months (3.08 ± 0.5 l/min per m2, P = 0.04), but no other significant changes were observed in the long term (3.03 ± 0.7 l/min per m2, 3 ± 0.7 l/min per m2, and 2.85 ± 0.7 l/min per m2, at 12, 24 and 36 months, respectively). Ejection fraction improved at 6 and 12 months (29.1 ± 1.03%, P = 0.0017; and 27.3 ± 5.6%, P = 0.0091, respectively), while no substantial augmentation was documented at 2 and 3 years (25.6 ± 2.5% and 25.1 ± 4.0%, respectively). Left ventricular end-diastolic diameter was markedly reduced at 6 (73.2 ± 8.0 mm, P = 0.0176), 12 (69.4 ± 8.5 mm, P = 0.002) and 24 months (71.1 ± 7.0 mm, P = 0.011), and was then stable (74.0 ± 9.1 mm, P = 0.47) at 36 months. Postoperative pressure/volume loop evaluation showed some improvement of hemodynamic function from skeletal muscle assistance. Acute pulmonary edema episodes, as well as number of hospitalizations, were considerably reduced following cardiomyoplasty. Conclusions: In our experience, cardiomyoplasty was shown to exert moderate beneficial influence on left ventricular performance, to significantly reduce cardiac dilatation and to promote the stabilization of the disease course.
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