Right ventricular (RV) failure after left ventricular assist device (LVAD) implantation is associated with a high rate of morbidity and mortality. We sought to determine pre-operative right heart echocardiographic predictors of post-LVAD severe RV failure. RV failure, defined as the need for inotropic support or pulmonary vasodilators for >or=14 days post-operatively, was evaluated in 33 patients (age 54 +/- 13 years) with LVADs. Preoperative RV systolic and diastolic echocardiographic parameters, including RV fractional area change, tricuspid annular motion, right atrial volume index, RV index of myocardial performance, hepatic vein Doppler velocities, tricuspid regurgitation severity, and RV systolic pressures (RVSPs) in patients with and without RV failure were compared. Of the 33 patients evaluated, 11 (33%) had post-LVAD RV failure (2 needed RVAD support). Patients with post-LVAD RV failure had significantly lower pre-operative tricuspid annular motion (8 +/- 4 vs 15 +/- 6 mm, p < 0.01) and higher RVSPs (60 +/- 14 vs 46 +/- 11 mm Hg, p = 0.02). In 13 patients (39%) with moderate tricuspid regurgitation, pre-operative tricuspid annular motion remained significantly reduced (6.0 +/- 0.5 vs 13.5 +/- 5.0 mm, p = 0.045). Other echocardiographic parameters were not significantly different between patients. Tricuspid annular motion of <7.5 mm provides 91% specificity and 46% sensitivity in predicting post-LVAD RV failure. Tricuspid annular motion is a predictor of post-LVAD RV failure. Using tricuspid annular motion in addition to conventional criteria may aid in early identification of patients with prolonged inotropic support or severe RV failure and allow for better pre-operative planning.