The purpose of this study was to assess hematologic abnormalities and thromboembolic complications related to long-term use of the pneumatic artificial heart (PAH). Laboratory data and autopsy findings were analyzed from 24 calves that survived 70-353 (150 ± 82) days after implantation of a PAH. Compared with baseline levels, the hemoglobin was significantly lower, and the plasma hemoglobin and serum LDH significantly higher, throughout the follow-up period. The platelet count decreased during the first 10-30 weeks, but returned to preoperative levels by week 35. Platelet survival in 4 calves in stable condition was normal, and the leukocyte count and absolute neutrophil count were within normal limits. At autopsy, thrombotic complications and organ infarction were noted in 13 calves, and major septic complications were documented in 10 animals. The authors' observations indicate that thromboembolism and infection are major complications of long-term use of the PAH.
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