Intra-aortic balloon pump

Case contributed by Frank Gaillard
Diagnosis certain


Post cardiac surgery

Patient Data

Age: 60 years
Gender: Female

Chest x-ray (ICU)


Intra-aortic balloon pump (partially inflated) in situ along with the usual post cardiac surgery lines (ETT, SGC, chest drain). 

Annotated images

Annotated image

The inflated intra-aortic ballon can be seen as an elongated radiolucency (red dotted line) with a radio-opaque marker at the tip (red arrow). MRA of another patient (1) demonstrates the full extent to the device. 

As is the case with ICU patients, numerous other lines are visible: 

  • endotracheal tube (blue)
  • Swan-Ganz catheter (yellow - curled in the center of the film)
  • ECG lead (yellow  - right upper quadrant)
  • temporary pacing leads (green, difficult to see)
  • mediastinal / chest drain (brown)

1. Image courtesy of DSCP. Original file: Public Domain. 

Case Discussion

When interpreting ICU chest x-rays careful attention must be paid to the lines and catheters present. Familiarity with these lines is essential if appropriate position it so be confirmed, especially as the requests seldom list the lines present. 

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