Normocalcemic blood or crystalloid cardioplegia provides better neonatal myocardial protection than does low-calcium cardioplegia

J. M. Pearl, H. Laks, D. C. Drinkwater, A. Meneshian, B. Sun, R. N. Gates, P. Chang, G. F.O. Tyers, D. M. Follette, M. Aoki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Although standard blood cardioplegia provides good myocardial protection for cardiac operations in adults, protection of the cyanotic, immature myocardium remains suboptimal. Calcium, which has been implicated in reperfusion injury and in the development of 'stone heart' in mature myocardium, is routinely lowered in standard cardioplegic solutions. Immature, neonatal myocardium has lower intracellular calcium stores and is more reliant on extracellular calcium for contraction. To determine if normocalcemic cardioplegia would result in improved cardiac function in the neonatal heart, we conducted a series of experiments using an isolated, blood-perfused working heart model. Thirty-two neonatal piglet hearts (24 to 48 hours) were excised without intervening ischemia and were placed directly on a blood-perfused circuit. Baseline stroke work index was assessed. Hearts were then arrested with cold cardioplegic solution delivered at 45 mm Hg for 2 minutes: group I, low-calcium blood cardioplegic solution (Ca = 0.6 mmol/L); group II, normal-calcium blood cardioplegic solution (Ca = 1.1 mmol/L); group III, University of Wisconsin solution; and group IV, University of Wisconsin solution with added calcium (Ca = 1.0 mmol/L). Cardioplegic solution was administered every 20 minutes for 2 hours and topical hypothermia was used. Hearts were then reperfused with warm whole blood. Functional recovery, expressed as a percentage of control stroke work index, was determined minutes after reperfusion. Hearts preserved with normocalcemic cardioplegic solution (groups II and IV) had complete functional recovery at 60 minutes, whereas hearts preserved with low-calcium cardioplegic solution (groups I and III) achieved functional recoveries of only 80 % and 65 %, respectively, at a left atrial pressure of 9 mm Hg. Electron micrographs taken 1 hour after reperfusion showed minimal edema and only mild myofibrillar changes. They were identical in both the low-calcium and normocalcemic groups. Complete functional recovery is possible in immature myocardium when calcium is added to either blood or an intracellular crystalloid cardioplegic solution. The addition of calcium does not result in ultrastructural damage and does result in good functional recovery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)201-206+212-213
JournalJournal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1993
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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