Low incidence of myocardial recovery after left ventricular assist device implantation in patients with chronic heart failure

D M Mancini, A Beniaminovitz, H Levin, K Catanese, M Flannery, M DiTullio, S Savin, M E Cordisco, E Rose, M Oz
Circulation 1998 December 1, 98 (22): 2383-9

BACKGROUND: Mechanical, histological, and biochemical improvement has been described in patients after left ventricular assist device (LVAD) support. Explantation of the LVADs without heart transplantation has been described in selected patients who received this therapy as a bridge to transplantation.

METHODS AND RESULTS: A retrospective review of patients receiving a mechanical bridge to transplantation at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital after July 21, 1991, was performed to determine the incidence of patients in whom the device was successfully explanted. From August 1, 1996, to February 1, 1998, we prospectively attempted to identify potential explant candidates by the use of exercise testing. During this time, we recruited 39 consecutive patients after insertion of the Thermo Cardiosystems vented electric device to participate in the following study. Approximately 3 months after device implantation, a maximal exercise test with hemodynamic monitoring and respiratory gas analysis was performed with the LVAD in the automated mode. The electric device was interfaced with a pneumatic console such that the rate could be decreased to 20 cycles/min. Hemodynamic measurements were recorded as the device rate was decreased. A repeat exercise test was then performed if the patient remained hemodynamically stable. A retrospective chart review of 111 LVAD recipients at our institution identified only 5 successful explant patients. Eighteen of the 39 patients were studied. Fifteen patients exercised with maximal device support. At peak exercise, VO2 averaged 14.5+/-3.6 mL. kg-1. min-1; LVAD flow, 8.0+/-1.3 L/min; Fick cardiac output, 11.4+/-3.3 L/min; and pulmonary capillary wedge pressure, 13+/-4 mm Hg. Seven patients remained normotensive and could exercise at a fixed rate of 20 cycles/min. In these patients, peak VO2 declined from 17.3+/-3.9 to 13.0+/-6.1 mL. kg-1. min-1. In one of these patients, the device was explanted.

CONCLUSIONS: Significant myocardial recovery after LVAD therapy in patients with end-stage congestive heart failure occurs in a small percentage of patients. Most of these patients have dilated cardiomyopathy. Exercise testing may be a useful modality to identify those patients in whom the device can be explanted.

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