Isolated permanent right ventricular assist device implantation with the HeartWare continuous-flow ventricular assist device: first results from the European Registry for Patients with Mechanical Circulatory Support

Alexander M Bernhardt, Theo M M H De By, Hermann Reichenspurner, Tobias Deuse
European Journal of Cardio-thoracic Surgery 2015, 48 (1): 158-62

OBJECTIVES: Isolated right ventricular (RV) dysfunction with preserved left ventricular function is difficult to treat and associated with high mortality. Temporary devices for right ventricular support [right ventricular assist device (RVAD)] are available and have been used for short-term right heart assistance. In some patients, RV function does not recover and long-term devices are needed. Recently, isolated RVAD implantation with a permanent HeartWare HeartWare ventricular assist device (HVAD) device has been reported in patients with acute RV infarction and chronic graft failure. However, isolated implantation on the right side remains rare and is still an off-label use for this pump. To gather European data, we queried the European Registry for Patients with Mechanical Circulatory Support (EUROMACS) database, in which procedures and outcome data for patients receiving mechanical circulatory support are registered.

METHODS: Until May 2014, data of 8 patients (mean age 55.0 ± 17.3 years, 100% males) with an isolated HVAD for RV support were submitted to the EUROMACS registry. All patients were in INTERMACS classes 1-3. Device strategy was rescue therapy in 6 patients (75.0%) and destination therapy in 2 patients (25.0%). Indications for RVAD placement were acute myocardial infarction in 4 (50.0%), failure to wean from cardiopulmonary bypass in 2 (25.0%) and post-cardiotomy RV failure in another 2 patients (25.0%). Intra- and postoperative results of the EUROMACS registry were analysed.

RESULTS: Inflow cannulas were implanted into the right atrium (RA) in 6 patients (75.0%) and into the RV in 2 patients (25.0%). CPB was used in 6 patients (75.0%). Four patients (50.0%) survived the first 30 days. During follow-up, 1 patient died after 44 days due to multiorgan failure. In the surviving three patients, 2 patients were transplanted after 29 and 419 days, respectively, and, in 1 patient, the device was explanted for pump thrombosis and recovered RV function.

CONCLUSION: In this very specific and sick patient cohort within the EUROMACS registry, isolated permanent RVAD implantation is a novel and promising strategy for patients with isolated right heart failure. However, more experience is needed to identify patients who benefit from this technology.

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