Neurocognitive function in patients with ventricular assist devices: a comparison of pulsatile and continuous blood flow devices

ASAIO J. Jan-Feb 2006;52(1):24-7. doi: 10.1097/01.mat.0000191334.51375.7e.


The effect of successful ventricular assist device (VAD) implantation on neurocognitive function in terminal heart failure is uncertain. Additionally, the different impact of continuous versus pulsatile blood flow devices is unknown. A total of 29 patients (mean age 53 years), surviving implantation of a ventricular assist device as bridge to transplantation were prospectively followed (continuous flow: Micromed DeBakey, n = 11; pulsatile flow: Thoratec and Novacor, n = 18). Normative data were obtained in 40 age- and sex-matched healthy subjects (mean age 54 years). Neurocognitive function was objectively measured by means of cognitive P300 auditory evoked potentials before operation (baseline), at intensive care unit (ICU) discharge, and at the 8-week and 12-week follow-up. Before implantation of the VAD, cognitive P300 evoked potentials were impaired (prolonged) compared with age- and sex-matched healthy subjects (p < 0.001). After successful VAD implantation, P300 evoked potentials markedly improved compared with before operation (ICU discharge, p = 0.007; 8-week follow-up, p = 0.022; 12-week follow-up, p < 0.0001). Importantly, there was no difference between continuous and pulsatile VADs (before operation, p = 0.676; ICU discharge, p = 0.736; 8-week follow-up, p = 0.911 and 12-week follow-up, p = 0.397; respectively). Nevertheless, P300 peak latencies did not fully normalize at 12-week follow-up compared with healthy subjects (p = 0.012). Successful VAD implantation improves neurocognitive impairment in patients with terminal heart failure. Importantly, this effect is independent of the type of VAD (pulsatile vs. continuous blood flow).

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Austria / epidemiology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Event-Related Potentials, P300 / physiology
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Heart Failure / physiopathology
  • Heart-Assist Devices*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Pulsatile Flow / physiology
  • Ventricular Function, Left