The intra-aortic balloon pump (IABP) is a mechanical device that improves the function of the left ventricle, which helps the heart pump blood. It is a long, thin tube (catheter) with a balloon on the end of it that is inserted into the aorta, the body’s largest artery. The balloon inflates and deflates with the rhythm of your heart.
The left ventricle is the chamber that pumps blood into your aorta. An intra-aortic balloon pump inflates when your left ventricle has finished contracting. This helps increase blood flow to the rest of the body. As the left ventricle is about to pump out blood, the balloon deflates, creating extra space in the aorta for more blood to be pumped out. This decreases the workload on the heart.