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An intra-aortic balloon pump (IABP) is a mechanical device that helps the heart pump blood. This device is inserted into the aorta, the body's largest artery. It is a long, thin tube called a catheter with a balloon on the end of it.
If you are hospitalized, your doctor may insert an IABP. Your doctor will numb an area of your leg and thread the IABP through the femoral artery in your leg into your aorta. He or she then positions the IABP at the center of your aorta, below your heart.