Circulatory support with paracorporeal pneumatic ventricular assist device (VAD) in infants and children

K Ishino, M Loebe, F Uhlemann, Y Weng, E Hennig, R Hetzer
European Journal of Cardio-thoracic Surgery 1997, 11 (5): 965-72

OBJECTIVE: The feasibility and efficacy of the pneumatic 'Berlin Heart' ventricular assist device (VAD) were evaluated in 14 pediatric patients with profound cardiogenic shock refractory to conventional therapy.

METHODS: There were two patient groups. Eleven patients, aged 2 weeks 15 years and weighing 3.2-52 kg received a left ventricular assist device or a biventricular assist device as a bridge to cardiac transplantation (bridge group). Nine of them had liver, kidney, or lung dysfunction before device implantation. Three patients were supported with a biventricular assist device for myocardial recovery (recovery group): a 6-month-old girl for postcardiotomy shock, a 10-month-old girl for allograft failure after cardiac transplantation, and a 4-year-old boy with acute myocarditis.

RESULTS: In the bridge group, eight patients were transplanted after a bridge duration of 6-98 days (mean, 32 days) with five long-term survivors. Organ functions were normalized during bridging in all of the transplant recipients. In the recovery group, the first patient was removed from support after 2 days because of irreversible brain damage. The second patient was weaned from biventricular support after 8 days, but suffered from recurrent allograft failure. The third patient received biventricular support for 21 days followed by extracorporeal membrane oxygenation and was subsequently discharged from the hospital.

CONCLUSIONS: The 'Berlin Heart' VAD can keep selected infants and children with life-threatening heart failure for weeks or months.

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