Background: If long term use of left ventricular assist devices (LVADs) as bridges to transplantation is successful, the issue of permanent device implantation in lieu of transplantation could be addressed through the creation of appropriately designed trials. Our medium-term experience with both pneumatically and electrically powered ThermoCardiosystems LVADs is presented to outline the benefits and limitations of device support in lieu of transplantation. Methods and Results: Detailed records were kept prospectively for all patients undergoing LVAD insertion. Fifty-eight LVADs were inserted over 5 years, with a survival rate of 74%. Mean patient age was 50 years, and duration of support averaged 98 days. Although common, both preexisting infection and infection during LVAD support were not associated with increased mortality or decreased rate of successful transplantation. Thromboembolic complications were rare, occurring in only three patients (5%) despite the absence of anticoagulation. Ventricular arrhythmias were well tolerated in all patients except in cases of early perioperative right ventricular failure, with no deaths. Right ventricular failure occurred in one third of patients and was managed in a small percentage by right ventricular assist device (RVAD) support and/or inhaled nitric oxide therapy. There were no serious device malfunctions, but five graft-related hemorrhages resulted in two deaths. Finally, a variety of noncardiac surgical procedures were performed in LVAD recipients, with no major morbidity and mortality. Conclusions: Over all, our medium-term experience with implantable LVAD support is encouraging. Although additional areas of investigation exist, improvements in patient selection and management together with device alterations that have reduced the thromboembolic incidence and facilitated patient rehabilitation lead us to believe that a prospective, randomized trial is indicated to study the role that LVADs may have as an alternative to medical management.
- assist device
- heart failure
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
- Physiology (medical)