Use of ventricular assist devices in children across the United States: analysis of 7.5 million pediatric hospitalizations

Ann Thorac Surg. 2010 Oct;90(4):1313-8; discussion 1318-9. doi: 10.1016/j.athoracsur.2010.04.107.


Background: Recently, there has been a surge of interest by clinicians, industry, and the government in the development and use of ventricular assist devices (VAD) in children. Despite this rapidly expanding interest, the incidence of VAD use in children across the United States is unknown. The Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (H-CUP) Kids' Inpatients Database (KID) was analyzed to characterize the current utilization of VADs in children nationwide.

Methods: The most recent HCUP-KID (2006) was analyzed (n = 7.5 million). This database is a nationwide sampling of hospital discharges of patients less than 20 years old weighted to provide national estimates.

Results: In 2006, 187 children had a VAD implanted in the United States. Mean age was 13 ± 7 years. Forty patients (21%) were bridged to VAD by extracorporeal membrane oxygenation. Forty-nine patients (26%) were bridged to heart transplant. Fifty-six patients (30%) died in hospital. Eighty-six patients (46%) were discharged or transferred. Length of stay was 29 days (range, 0 to 285). Total cost was $174,743 (range, $4,230 to $1,911,588). Sixty-seven hospitals placed VADs; 66% of VADs (124) were implanted at large teaching hospitals (more than 500 beds), and 46% (85) were at high-volume hospitals (more than 5 VADs per year). High-volume, large teaching hospitals (10) had better survival (89% versus 61%; p < 0.001) and lower hospital cost ($236,000 ± $184,000 versus $300,000 ± $355,000; p = 0.002) compared with all other hospitals. On multivariate analysis, acute renal failure and extracorporeal membrane oxygenation were risk factors for mortality, whereas transplant and being at a high-volume large teaching hospital were protective factors from death.

Conclusions: Preliminary data suggest that the growing use of VADs in children may be better served in regard to resource utilization and outcomes if centralized to high-volume large teaching hospitals.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Databases, Factual
  • Female
  • Heart Failure / etiology
  • Heart Failure / mortality
  • Heart Failure / surgery*
  • Heart-Assist Devices / statistics & numerical data*
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data
  • Hospitals / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult