SciELO - Scientific Electronic Library Online

vol.25 special issue 1Evaluation of the risk for pressure ulcers in bedridden elderly at homePerception of social support by individuals with diabetes mellitus and foot ulcers author indexsubject indexarticles search
Home Pagealphabetic serial listing  

Services on Demand




Related links


Acta Paulista de Enfermagem

On-line version ISSN 1982-0194

Acta paul. enferm. vol.25 no.spe1 São Paulo  2012 



Validation of a protocol to assist patients with intra-aortic balloon*


Validación de un protocolo para la asistencia a pacientes con balón intraaórtico



Regimar Carla MachadoI; Grazia Maria GuerraII; João Nelson Rodrigues BrancoIII

IPhDin Science. Professor of the Graduate Program in Nursing Critical Care/Cardiology, Universityof Vale do Paraiba – UNIVAP – Sao Jose dos Campos (SP), Brazil
IIPhD in Science. Researcher of the Laboratory of Clinical Investigation of the Clinical Unit of Hyphertension of the Heart Institute of the Medical Faculty Clinics Hospital. Universityof Sao Paulo – USP– Sao Paulo (SP), Brazil
IIIFull professor. Associate professor of the Cardiovascular Surgery Course, Federal University of Sao Paulo – UNIFESP – Sao Paulo (SP),Brazil

Corresponding Author




OBJECTIVE: To develop a protocol of care for patients with Intra-Aortic Balloon and validate the content of this protocol.
METHODS: Study of quantitative and descriptive approach. The methodology followed three steps: development of the instrument; content validity and reliability verification of the protocol for the analysis of agreement between specialists with greater experience. The study included 48 specialists, including physicians and nurses experienced in patient care in use of balloon. Items considered valid achieved at least 75% of consensus before the analysis of agreement between evaluators.
RESULTS: We evaluated 36 items, of these, 20 were considered valid. The reliability was also verified, using consistency of the responses of more experienced evaluators. Among the items submitted to new statistical analysis by these evaluators, only two were considered valid.
CONCLUSION: Based on the content validation, a protocol with 22 items concerning patient care without the use of intra-aortic balloon was developed.

Keywords: Intra-aortic balloon pumping/nursing; Protocols; Patient care; Counterpulsation; Assisted circulation; Heart failure; Validation studies; Nursing care


OBJETIVOS: Elaborar un protocolo de cuidados a pacientes con Balón Intraaórtico y validar el contenido de ese protocolo.
MÉTODOS: Estudio de abordaje cuantitativo, descriptivo. La trayectoria metodológica siguió tres etapas: elaboración del instrumento; validación del contenido y verificación de la confiabilidad del protocolo por el análisis de concordancia entre peritos con mayor tiempo de experiencia. Participaron en el estudio 48 peritos, entre médicos y enfermeros, con experiencia en asistencia al paciente en uso del balón. Los items considerados válidos obtuvieron consenso mínimo del 75% frente al análisis de concordancia entre los evaluadores.
RESULTADOS: Fueron evaluados 36 items, de éstos, 20 fueron considerados válidos. Se verificó también la confiabilidad, utilizando la congruencia de las respuestas de los evaluadores más experientes. De los items sometidos al nuevo análisis estadístico por esos evaluadores, apenas dos se considerarons válidos.
CONCLUSIÓN: Con base en la validación del contenido, se elaboró un protocolo con 22 items referentes a los cuidados al paciente sin uso del Balón Intraaórtico.

Descriptores: Contrapulsador intraaórtico/enfermería; Protocolos; Atención al paciente; Contrapulsación; Circulación asistida; Insuficiencia cardíaca; Estudios de validación; Atención de enfermería




The behavioral changes, particularly, by the processes of industrialization and urbanization, generated changes related to eating habits, increased physical inactivity, obesity and smoking(1,2).

These changes are responsible for the increased rates of cardiovascular disease, among which, the heart failure (HF), recognized as an issue of relevance for public health, particularly in developed countries(2,3).

The choice of treatment of advanced HF with therapeutics improvements and early intervention aims to provide a better quality of life, reduce hospitalizations and improve survival of patients(3-7). However, considering that a significant number of patients evolves for the most advanced and irreversible stage of the disease, even under medication optimization and intensive treatment, it requires referral to heart transplantation(8,9). But, due to scarce number of donors, unfortunately, many patients die while waiting for atransplantat(9,10).

However, for patients with HF and hemodynamic unstable,sometimes, hospitalization is required with the primary objective of optimizing their clinical condition. This optimization is performed by inotropic drugs and application of mechanical circulatory support (MCS). It is noteworthy that MCS can be used as a "bridge" to heart transplantation(11,12).

MCS may be divided, according to the use of two types of devices: Cardiac replacement (total artificial heart) and ventricular assist devices (VAD). These can be subdivided into assistance in series by counterpulsation (intra-aortic ballon – IAB) and by assistance in parallel – implantable artificial ventricles: HeartmateandNovacoror paracorporealInCor, Thoratecand BertinHeart(11-13).

VAD has the property to recover partially or all cardiac output and, thereby, ensure systemic perfusion. So,one of the most used devices with the intention of assisting or restore coronary blood flow is the IAB(11,12,14).

However, complications from its use can be related to several factors, such as infections, limb ischemia, the balloon rupture, bleeding, paraplegia (rare) and abdominal pain that can be caused by mesenteric artery occlusion(11,15,16).

In this context, the extensive knowledge of the patient allows planning therapeutic interventions to provide quality care. However, a way to address the care provided to clients is the validation of a protocol of care.

For this study, we considered the validation of content for consisting in the convergent opinion of the evaluators, emphasizing the need for consensus among the group of participants(17). This tool is useful and efficient in guiding patient care, and is based in prognosis of care as in the adjustment between human, material and physical resources.

The theoretical framework obtained showed some important elements in the construction of variables addressed at assisting the patient with HF presenting hemodynamic instability and need for mechanical circulatory assistance by IAB. However, the lack of studies with consensual approach in the standardization of care were not satisfactory, thus, this study aimed to develop and validate the contents of a protocol of care for patients with Intra-Aortic Balloon.



Descriptive study, with a quantitative approach developed a protocol of care for patients with IAB. The methodology followed three steps: preparation of data collection instrument; content validation and verification of the reliability of the instrument for the analysis of agreement among specialists with greater time experience.

In order todevelop this instrument, a systematic search of the literature was done in order to investigate the care provided to patients with IAB(11-14,16,18,19) and referring the research protocolto Research Ethics Committee of the Federal Universityde Sao Paulo with approved protocol under No. 1.484/08.

Aiming to refine the instrument on the scope, clarity, relevance and configuration, as well as whether the proposed items contemplated the parameters established forIABcare, an evaluation was performed by two physicians and three nurses, given some selection criteria for evaluators, such as medical specialization in cardiology or intensive care.

After the preparation and refinement of the instrument, we began the process of recruiting specialist professionals for the final evaluation.

Professionals from public and private health care facilities of Sao Paulo were contacted by the researcher that, in total, delivered 65 instruments with concomitant clarification of objectives, purpose and fulfillment of the research, between December 2008 and May 2009 and established the deadline of 30 days for analysis and its return. Therefore, the sample is constituted by 48 evaluators, including 20 physicians and 28 nurses.

According to the literature, there is no consensus on the quantitative portion of the evaluators group to validate the items of an instrument, however, the number of specialists available will depend on the available sample that the researcher can contact(20,21).

Thus, the selection of the sample of professionals who participated in this research occurred by "snowball sampling or networkingsampling"(17), which consists onthe requesting for the first subjects from the sample to indicate or recommend other individuals who meet the selection criteria for the study.

The following parameters for the selection of evaluators were established: bea specialist in Cardiology and Intensive Care, with a minimum time of experience of one year working with the proposed theme and scientific production on the topic in recent years.

To develop the protocol of care for patients undergoing MCS with IAB, were only considered relevant the evaluationsopinions converging favorable with a minimum level of 75% based on statistical analysis. This agreement index was basedin other validation studies(20,21).

The verification of reliability is an important factor in indicating the quality of an instrument(17). Thus, the choice of a model to verify the reliability of the instrument was used by the congruence of content responses to understand that consistency comes from the agreement between evaluators.

The instrument variables that did not reach the minimum value level (75%) and presented different responses to the questions were submitted to a new descriptive statistical analysis that considered the opinion of 15 professionals with longer time of experience,over 8 years in the Intensive Care Unit. At this step, it was checked which response had the highest percentage of agreement among evaluators,so that these issues could also be validated.

We selected some answers (in pairs) to determine the association between them; the statistical test of Chi-square (c2) or Fisher's exact test was applied and the significance level of 5% wasobserved.However, only two variables showed favorable rates.



We evaluated 36 items directed to patient care in use of the IAB, however, the first 20 were considered relevant by presenting converged opinions 48 (100%) evaluators with the minimum level of agreement in favor of 75% (Table 1).

Based on the evaluation of items relating to the care of patient without usingIAB and content validation of the items that had at least 75% favorable level, we drew up a protocol with 22 itemsdescribed in Box 1.



The literature provides data to establish care in various situations of the patient with IAB. Based on this information, we identified the care analyzed in this study.

Aiming to reduce anxiety and provide a humanized care, it was considered appropriate to clarify patients and their families about the risks and benefits of IAB. These items support the scientific literature, when it describes the importance of communication and education regarding mobility limitations and possible complications of the catheter(18).

The importance of professional scrub in to perform the insertion of IAB, obtained a high degree of consensus among evaluators. This data reference the findings in the literature(19,22) on the precaution of infection during insertion of catheters using the appropriate garment.

Favorable agreement regarding the use of heparin solution in the transducer was presented. However, we did not find any studies that explored this issue.

Chlorhexidinegluconate at concentrations of 2% proved to be a suitable antiseptic solution for achieving antisepsis at the site where the arterial catheterwas inserted. Regarding the theoretical framework, the solution has antibacterial activity for grampositive and gramnegative, with a residual effect of 6 to 8 hours(19).

The femoral artery was the site of choice for insertion of the balloon catheter, to be sufficiently large caliber to accommodate it and maintain distal limb flow. However, the catheter can be inserted into other arteries such as the iliac, left subclavian artery and ascending aorta(12).

The item relating to the maintenance of limb restriction, where the catheter is inserted, showed favorable rate between evaluators. This care of avoiding hip flexion appears to be useful in preventing hematomas or preventinglimb blood flow obstruction.

The analysis to evaluate the relevance in keeping the patient in the supine position obtained anagreement rate of 89% between the evaluators. On the other hand, studies suggest that the head-of-bed should be elevated to 30°(18).

The verification of the catheter position in the chest radiograph obtained a favorable agreementrate. The balloon catheter is flexible and should be positioned close to the emergence of the left subclavian artery and above the renal arteries. Observation regarding the balloon end, which is radiopaque until a distal position to the aortic root(11), its observation being important every 12 hours. However, one study showed that the aortic rootmay not be suitable to evaluate catheter position, due to the large shadow that this exerts on the radiograph,thereforethe carina, due to its clearer anatomy may be a practical way to evaluate the position of the balloon(23).

The clinical assessment and Doppler ultrasound evaluation of the limb inserted, in order to avoid risk of thrombosis or arterial occlusion, showed predominance and should be performed at least every 12 hours. The limb ischemia is considered the most frequent complication in patients using the IAB(19). The main reasons are distal thrombusof arterial injury during catheter insertion and venous thromboembolism (VTE)(16,18,24). Doppler ultrasound examination will determine the presence or absence of distal pulses difficult to be palpated, especially the tibial and dorsalispedis(18).

In this context, the verification of femoral circulation, popliteal, tibial and dorsalispedis should be performed every 15 minutes during the first hour, every 30 minutes, in the second hour; then, every 2 hours and every 4 hours, until the removal of the catheter(18).

A study evaluating the relationship of the duration of the complications presented by the use of IAB showed a lower rate of complications in a group of patients with shorter duration of therapy. The group with longer period, despite the low incidence of complications, presented limb ischemia as the most observed and also with increased risk among women and the elderly(16).

The relevance of using heparin SC (enoxoparin) as preventing complications, showed high rate of agreement between evaluators, especially the presence and movement of the catheter in the intimal layer of the artery with the endothelium that may favor thrombosis or laceration(12,24). Studies relating patients with VAD and reduced mobility indicate anticoagulation with low molecular weight heparin for prophylaxis of venous thromboembolism(11-12,24).

The item on the evaluation of coagulation test, as the International Normalized Ratio (INR), the partial thromboplastin time (aPTT) and platelets obtained a high level of agreement. One of the complications of the patient to use the IAB is bleeding. Thebleeding should be monitored, evaluating catheters, drains, probes and guide the degree of anticoagulation by the results of the coagulation every 6 hours(24,25).

When analyzing the item time of change of common dressing, with gauze and porous adhesive, there was consensus among evaluators for the dressing to be changed every 24 hours. These data, therefore,relate tothe findings in the literature prescribing the dressing changes between 24 to48 hours(19).

Regarding the hemodynamic parameters, only heart rate (HR) obtained agreement between evaluators. The heart rate of the patient, if too fast, can impair the process of synchronizing the balloon with the cardiac cycle and provide ineffective counterpulsation, thus justifying the relevance of the constant monitoring of this parameter.

The observation of hemodynamic conditions is a constant process, since the importance of this observation is not restricted only in evaluating the clinical outcome, but also about the right moment to weaned from circulatory support.

As to item relevance in monitoring the correct functionality of the IAB and monitor the amount of helium gas, yielded aagreement rate of almost 100%. It is understood that the console is the device responsible for inflating and deflating the IAB, using helium gas. This cycle can be synchronized with the electrocardiogram tracing the patient's heart rhythm or in syncing with the trace of systemic blood pressure(11). Faced with this, the nursing team must constantly verify the data provided by the console monitor for early detection of potential problems regarding the functionality of the equipment.

Regarding the important parameters weaned fromIAB, no item presented isolated consensus of 75%. While, in the reassessment with more experienced specialists, the question that all items must be evaluated before weanedfromIAB, presented favorable rate of 87%. These data are similar to the literature, when referencing that weaned from circulatory support, the counterpulsation should be progressively reduced(25).

During IAB removal, complications can occur such as limb ischemia or arterial thrombosis displacement of possible thrombus(24). For these reasons, the IABremoval must be performed with great care and caution. However, there was harmony between the evaluators for the physician to remove the balloon catheter. There are reports in the literature that catheter removal is an action exclusively performed by the physician(25).

Related to the type of local pressure after catheter removal, manual pressure showed 80% consensus after reevaluation with the more experienced specialists(25).

The agreement index of the evaluators for the items related to the type and time for performing dressing change after catheter removal was nearly 100% for the type of pressure dressing and changing every 24 hours. Result that resembles the findings in the literature, to reinforce that the pressure dressing should be done and that the limb should stay still for 6 hours after catheter removal(25).

The protocol promotes a scientific framework for the coordination of care, having as main features, the flexibility and constant updating of knowledge based in evidenced and scientifically substantiated new situations(26).

Therefore, the foundation of the scientific literature and clinical practice of professionals have emerged to create a protocol of care to the patient using IAB.



From the content validation, a protocol was developedwith twenty-two items relating to the care of patients using intra-aortic balloon.



1. Rosa LV, Issa JS, Salemi VM, Younes RN, Kalil Filho R. Epidemiologia das doenças cardiovasculares e neoplasias:quando vai acontecer o cruzamento das curvas? Rev Soc Cardiol Estado de São Paulo; 2009;19(4): 526-34.         [ Links ]

2. Gallagher R. Self management, symptom monitoring and associated factors in people with heart failure living in the community. Eur J Cardiovasc Nurs. 2010; 9(3); 153-60.         [ Links ]

3. Hunt SA, Abraham WT, Chin MH, Feldman AM, Francis GS, Ganiats TG, et al. 2009 focused update incorporated into the ACC/AHA 2005 Guidelines for Diagnosis and Management of Heart Failure in Adults A Report of the American College of Cardiology Foundation/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines Developed in Collaboration With the International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation.J Am Coll Cardiol. 2009; 54(25):e1-e90.         [ Links ]

4. Pierce JD, Dalton K, Duke K, Spaniol JR. Heart failure guidelines and implications for surgically treating heart failure. AORN J. 2009; 90(6): 874-88.         [ Links ]

5. Saccomann IC, Cintra FA, Gallani MC.. Quality of life in older adults with heart failure: assessment with a specific instrument.Acta Paul Enferm. 2011; 24(2):179-84.         [ Links ]

6. Grady KL. Self-care and quality of life outcomes in heart failure patients. J Cardiovasc Nurs. 2008; 23(3):285-92.         [ Links ]

7. Fini A, Cruz DA. Characteristics of fatigue in heart failure patients: a literature review. Rev Latinoam Enferm. 2009; 17(4): 557-65.         [ Links ]

8. Branco JN, Aguiar LF, Paez RP, Buffolo E. Opções cirúrgicas no tratamento da insuficiência cardíaca. Rev Soc Cardiol Estado de São Paulo. 2004;14(1):11-8.         [ Links ]

9. Vega JD, Moore J, Murray S, Chen JM, Johnson MR, Dyke DB. Heart transplantation in the United States, 1998-2007. Am J Transplant. 2009; 9(4 Pt 2):932-41.         [ Links ]

10. Roza BA, Garcia VD, Barbosa SF, Mendes KD, Schirmer J. Organ and tissues donation: relation with the body in our society. Acta Paul Enferm. 2010; 23 (3): 417-22.         [ Links ]

11. Fiorelli AI, Oliveira Junior JL, Coelho GH, Rocha DC. [Mechanical circulatory support: why and when].Rev Med (São Paulo). 2008; 87(1):1-15.         [ Links ] Portuguese.

12. Tsukui H, Teuteberg JJ, Murali S, McNamara DM, Buchanan JR, Winowich S, et al. Biventricular assist device utilization for patients with morbid congestive heart failure: a justifiable strategy. Circulation.2005; 112(9): 165-72.         [ Links ]

13. SlaughterMS, Rogers JG, Milano CA, Russel SD, Conte JV, Feldman D, et al.Advanced heart failure treated with continuous-flow left ventricular assist device. N Engl J Med. 2009; 361(23):2241-51.         [ Links ]

14. Lewis PA, Ward DA, Courtney MD. The intra-aortic balloon pump in heart failure management: implications for nursing practice. Aust Crit Care. 2009; 22(3):125-31.         [ Links ]

15. Olasinska-Wiśniewska A, Mularek-Kubzdela T, Grajek S, Breborowicz P, Seniuk W, Podzerek T. Indications, results of therapy and factors which influence survival in patients treated with intra-aortic balloon counterpulsation. Kardiol Pol. 2008; 66(9): 950-5.         [ Links ]

16. Assis RB, Azzolin K, Boaz M, Rabelo ER. Complications of intra-aortic balloon in a cohort of hospitalized patients: implications for nursing care. Rev Latinoam Enferm. 2009; 17(5): 658-63.         [ Links ]

17. Polit DF, Beck CT, Hungler BP. Fundamentos de pesquisa em enfermagem: métodos, avaliação e utilização. Thorell A, tradutor. Porto Alegre: Artmed; 2004. Coleta dos dados de pesquisa; p. 247-84.         [ Links ]

18. Reid MB, Cottrell D. Nursing care of patients receiving: Intra-aortic balloon counterpulsation. Crit Care Nurse. 2005; 25(5): 40-9.         [ Links ]

19. Center for Disease Control and Prevention.Guidelines for the Prevention of Intravascular Catheter-Related Infections [Internet]. 2011. [cited 2012 Nov 22]. Available from:        [ Links ]

20. Oliveira SM, Ribeiro RC, Ribeiro DF, Lima LC, Pinto MH, Poletti NA. Elaboration of a instrument for nursing care in the hemodialysis unit.Acta Paul Enferm. 2008; 21(No Espec):169-73.         [ Links ]

21. Oliveira MS, Fernandes AF, Sawada NO. [Educational handbook for self care in women with mastectomies: a validation study]. Texto & Contexto Enferm. 2008; 17(1):115-23.Portuguese.         [ Links ]

22. Traoré O, Liotier J, Souweine B. Prospective study of arterial and central venous catheter colonization and of arterial – and central venous catheter – related bacteremia in intensive care units. Crit Care Med. 2005; 33(6): 1276-80.         [ Links ]

23. Kim JT, Lee JR, Kim JK, Yoon SZ, Jeon Y, Bahk JH, et al. The carina as a useful radiographic landmark for positioning the intraaortic balloon pump. Anesth Analg. 2007;105(3):735-8.         [ Links ]

24. Christenson JT, Sierra J, Romand JA, Licker M, Kalangos A. Long intraaortic balloon treatment time leads to more vascular complications.Asian Cardiovasc Thorac Ann. 2007;15(5): 408-12.         [ Links ]

25. Rosas LV, Ganem F. Balão intra-aórtico. In: Nicolau JC, Tarasoutchi F, Rosa LV, Machado FP. Condutas práticas em cardiologia. São Paulo: Manole; 2010. p.874-79.         [ Links ]

26. González Sánchez JA, Corujo Fernández B, Colino Lamparero MJ, López Ortega S, Molina de Arévalo MV, Rosado Muñoz N, et al. [Care plan versus care protocol. Comparative analysis in patients subjected to cardiac catheterism].Enferm Intensiva.2006; 17(3):104-14.Spanish.         [ Links ]



Corresponding Author:
Regimar Carla Machado
Rua Napoleão de Barros, 830, Vila Clementino
São Paulo (SP), Brasil. CEP: 04024-003

Received article 13/08/2011 and accepted 03/08/2012



* Extracted from the PhD Thesis entitled "Study and validation of protocol ofcare in circulatory assistance by intra-aortic balloon in patients with refractory heart failure" of the Graduate Program in Cardiovascular Surgery, Federal University of Sao Paulo – UNIFESP – Sao Paulo (SP) ,Brazil.

Creative Commons License All the contents of this journal, except where otherwise noted, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License