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REBOA: Who, What and Why

A summary by Deborah Stein:

Hemorrhage is the leading cause of preventable death following trauma. Non-compressible hemorrhage is of particular concern as these patients require emergent intervention and many will die prior to anatomic hemostasis. For years, left anterior thoracotomy, the “ED thoracotomy”, was the standard of care for temporary proximal aortic occlusion, but survival remained dismal.

Endoluminal aortic occlusion which was actually first described in the 1950s. With the increasing use of endovascular therapies for a wide variety of vascular disease, the “REBOA” (Resuscitative Endovascular Balloon Occlusion of the Aorta) began to be reported for use for ruptured abdominal aneurysms in the 2000s. Since that time, interest in its use in trauma has been increasing with a variety of basic science studies and early clinical series and case reports documenting potential benefits.

Although no large randomized trials, or even large observational studies, are available, use of the REBOA is considered standard of care in many centers. Typically the REBOA is placed via the femoral artery either percutaneously or via a cut down and the aorta is occluded with a balloon placed over a wire by standard Seldinger-type technique. The balloon can be placed in “zone 1” just above the diaphragm to provide occlusion to the abdominal viscera and pelvic vasculature or in “zone 3” at the aortic bifurcation to provide inflow control to the pelvis and lower extremities. Injuries are then addressed and the balloon is carefully deflated taking care to avoid metabolic collapse from reperfusion.

One main limitation of this technique is that the currently approved device in the United States requires a 12F sheath which requires an open femoral artery repair which obvious can be associated with significant complications. There are a huge number of unanswered questions about the use of REBOA in 2015:
1. Who are the appropriate patients in whom use may be beneficial?
2. How long can a balloon be inflated and the aorta be occluded before irreversible ischemic damage to the viscera occurs?
3. How long can the aorta be occluded before the metabolic consequences of reperfusion are lethal?
4. What is the effect on cerebral and cardiac perfusion when a REBOA is placed and afterload is acutely increased? Is it favorable or “too much”?
5. Who are the appropriate providers to place a REBOA? Only surgeons? Emergency Medicine physicians? Medics in the field?
6. How do we best train providers to place the REBOA?
7. How to we assure competency of providers?
8. Will lower profile devices make the technique more accessible and be associated with fewer complications?

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