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Bridging to Cardiac Transplantation with Pulsatile Ventricular Assist Devices

Elsevier Inc.
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/s0003-4975(10)65884-5
  • Original Articles
  • Medicine


Abstract As cardiac transplantation becomes more commonplace in the treatment of end-stage heart failure and as suitable donors become less available, an increasing number of patients will require mechanical circulatory assistance to bridge to transplantation. Since 1982, refractory hemodynamic instability requiring placement of pulsatile ventricular assist devices (VADs) has developed in 11 candidates for transplantation aged 24 to 54 years (mean, 39.6 years). A pneumatic Pierce-Donachy pump was used in 9 patients and an electrical Novacor pump in 2. The cause of the cardiomyopathy was ischemic in 6, postpartum in 2, idiopathic in 2, and doxorubicin hydrochloride toxicity in 1. Seven patients required left ventricular support (LVAD); 4 required biventricular mechanical support (BVAD). Duration of support ranged from 8 hours to 91 days with flows ranging from 4.1 to 8.5 L/min (mean, 5.5 L/min). Although hemodynamic stability was achieved in all 11 patients, contraindications to transplantation developed in 5 patients during VAD support (renal failure in 4, sepsis in 3, disseminated intravascular coagulopathy in 1). The remaining 6 patients (4 with an LVAD, 2 with a BVAD) remained good candidates for transplantation despite major complications in 5 (mediastinal bleeding in 3, driveline infection in 3, development of preformed antibodies in 2, small embolic stroke caused by device malfunction in 1). The 3 patients who were supported the longest (24, 75, and 91 days) were ambulatory while awaiting a donor heart. All 6 patients underwent successful transplanation after 8 hours to 91 days (mean, 24 days) of support. Other than one sternal wound infection, there were no major complications after transplantation. The 6 survivors have been followed 4 to 30 months (mean, 14 months) with 1 late death due to medical noncompliance; the remaining 5 patients are in New York Heart Association Functional Class I. These results indicate that pulsatile VADs can provide prolonged hemodynamic support prior to transplantation with good preservation of end-organ function. Using strict criteria for determining suitability for transplantation, successful short-term outcome in this series was uniform.

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