Background: Primary graft failure after heart transplantation is a well-recognized catastrophic complication with a high mortality rate. It is becoming more frequent due to the increasing use of marginal donors. In these difficult cases a ventricular assist device (VAD) as a bridge to recovery or as a bridge to re-transplantation can be used. The recently introduced Levitronix Centrimag centrifugal pump might be an ideal device for this purpose.
Methods: In this study we describe 2 patients with primary graft failure who received a Levitronix in the last 2 years, immediately after failure to wean from cardiopulmonary bypass. Biventricular support was necessary in both patients.
Results: One patient was successfully re-transplanted after 2 days of support, and subsequently discharged. After 16 months she has good ventricular function with no symptoms of cardiac failure. The second patient showed signs of ventricular recovery after a few days and was weaned from the device after 7 days, with good graft function. No device-related complications were recorded. After 14 days he was discharged from the intensive care unit (ICU), and a post-operative echocardiogram showed normal dimensions, good ejection fraction and no valvular regurgitation. He was discharged home 26 days after the transplant.
Conclusions: In our experience, the Levitronix Centrimag seems to be safe and effective in the treatment of primary graft failure, achieving effective circulatory support and ventricular off-loading. We propose its use in isolated or biventricular graft failure either as bridge to re-transplant or as a bridge to recovery.