[Ventricular assist devices as bridge to heart transplantation in cardiogenic shock or terminal heart failure—12 years experience at the Sheba Medical Center]

Jacob Lavee, Yigal Kassif, Dov Freimark, Yedael Har Zahav, Vera Koman, Sergey Preisman, Aram Smolinsky, Ehud Raanani
Harefuah 2007, 146 (11): 833-6, 911

BACKGROUND: Patients in cardiogenic shock (CS) or with terminal heart failure (THF) are at imminent risk of death while waiting for heart transplantation (HTx). Implantation of left or bi-ventricular assist device (LVAD/BiVAD) as a bridge to HTx may save many of these doomed patients' lives.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: Between March 1994 and December 2006, 29 terminally ill patients (age 2.5-65 years, mean 48 years) underwent VADs implantation as bridge to HTx. The HeartMate VE LVAD was used in 18 patients, Thoratec pneumatic BiVAD in 7, Berlin Heart Excor BiVAD in one, and HeartMate II axial flow, Thoratec pneumatic and Biomedicus centrifugal LVADs in one each. Indications for VADs implantation were CS in 16 patients (55%) and intractable THF in 13 pts (45%). Etiologies were ischemic in 20 patients, idiopathic dilated, myocarditis and congenital in 2 patients each, and valvular, post partum and HTx graft vasculopathy in one patient each.

RESULTS: Seventeen patients (59%) survived VADs implantation and underwent HTx or are ongoing. Mean survival on VADs was 72 days (range 1-353 days, total 5.2 patient years). Seven patients (24%) were discharged home while on LVAD support for a mean of 146 days. Nine of the transplanted patients (64%) were discharged home. In 4 LVAD patients the cause of death was RV failure necessitating later implantation of RVAD.

CONCLUSIONS: VADs implantation as bridge to HTx in CS or THF saves many of these doomed patients, sometimes providing quality out-of-hospital life while waiting for HTx. Early recognition of RV failure and liberal use of BiVAD is important.

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