Left ventricular assist device destination therapy versus extended criteria cardiac transplant

Ann Thorac Surg. 2010 Apr;89(4):1205-9; discussion 1210. doi: 10.1016/j.athoracsur.2009.12.058.


Background: End-stage heart failure is a growing problem associated with a high mortality using conventional medical care. Although cardiac transplantation is an excellent treatment option, it is a limited resource and most patients are ineligible for cardiac transplantation using standard listing criteria. Increasingly, newer surgical options for these patients include the usage of marginal donor organs in an extended criteria-alternate list heart transplant program (EC-AL), or left ventricular assist devices as destination therapy (DT-LVAD). The purpose of this study was to compare baseline characteristics and outcomes after EC-AL versus DT-LVAD.

Methods: From March 2000 to August 2008, 153 consecutive patients who had been turned down for standard heart transplantation underwent either EC-AL or DT-LVAD. The most common reasons for standard heart transplant ineligibility for both groups were advanced age, diabetes mellitus with end-organ dysfunction, and significant renal insufficiency. Patients in the alternate list program received a donor organ that had been turned down by all other centers for standard list recipients. The most common reasons for donor heart refusal were decreased left ventricular function, left ventricle hypertrophy, or coronary artery disease. Outcomes for both groups were retrospectively reviewed after Institutional Review Board permission was obtained. Comparisons were also made between patients that had been matched by propensity score analysis.

Results: In all, 93 patients underwent EC-AL, and 60 underwent DT-LVAD. Baseline preoperative characteristics of both groups were similar except that 87% of DT-LVAD patients (52 of 60) required preoperative mechanical or inotropic support whereas only 51% of EC-AL patients (47 of 93) required support (p<0.0001). Thirty-day operative mortality and 1-year survival were 2.5% and 82.2% for EC-AL and 6.7% and 77.5% DT-LVAD, respectively (p=0.2411 and p=0.5036). Overall survival at 3 years was better for EC-AL versus DT-LVAD. The DT-LVAD patients had improved survival compared with the Randomized Evaluation of Mechanical Assistance for the Treatment of Congestive Heart Failure (REMATCH) trial DT-LVAD cohort, a historical control. These findings were corroborated in the analysis of propensity-matched patients.

Conclusions: Preoperatively, the DT-LVAD cohort was more unstable, with greater need for inotropes or mechanical support. Despite this, perioperative and 1-year mortality was similar for the two groups. Three-year survival was better for EC-AL. The DT-LVAD patient survival was better than that of the REMATCH DT-LVAD cohort.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Female
  • Heart Failure / surgery*
  • Heart Transplantation*
  • Heart-Assist Devices*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Selection
  • Retrospective Studies