Surgical technique influences HeartMate II left ventricular assist device thrombosis

Ann Thorac Surg. 2013 Oct;96(4):1259-1265. doi: 10.1016/j.athoracsur.2013.05.081. Epub 2013 Aug 20.


Background: Thrombosis of the HeartMate II (HM2 [Thoratec Corporation, Pleasanton, CA]) is a potentially devastating complication. While attention has been focused on anticoagulation strategies to prevent this complication, the impact of surgical technique has not been assessed.

Methods: Patients undergoing HM2 implantation at two institutions were reviewed. Pump thrombosis (PT) was defined as a clinical syndrome that included more than 30% elevation in pump power, more than 30% elevation in lactate dehydrogenase, and greater than 20% decrease in hemoglobin with the presence of thrombus in the HM2 stator or rotor, or both, at explant or autopsy. A blinded clinician reviewed dimensions and angles of the HM2 obtained from chest x-ray films. Patients demonstrating PT were compared with patients having normal function.

Results: Of the 49 patients reviewed, 11 (22.4%) displayed evidence of PT at a median of 42 days after HM2 implantation. Patient with PT had greater acute angulation of the HM2 inflow cannula immediately postoperatively (48.2 ± 6.8 versus 65.4 ± 9.2 degrees, p < 0.001) and after 30 days (50.1 ± 8.0 versus 65.1 ± 9.9 degrees, p < 0.001). Pump pocket depth was lower in the PT group immediately after HM2 implantation (107.0 ± 41.9 versus 144.3 ± 20.3 cm, p < 0.001) and after 30 days (86.0 ± 39.1 versus 113.1 ± 25.4 cm, p = 0.02). Patients with evidence of PT did not have a decrease in end-diastolic diameter (76 ± 9 versus 70 ± 15 mm, p = 0.24) whereas patients in the normal function group had effective remodeling of the left ventricle (70 ± 10 versus 56 ± 12 mm, p = 0.01).

Conclusions: Meticulous surgical technique, which necessitates creating an adequately sized pump pocket and appropriately directing the inflow cannula at the time of operation, may reduce the risk of PT.

Keywords: 27; CT; CXR; HM2; HeartMate II; IC; INR; INTERMACS; Interagency Registry for Mechanically Assisted Circulatory Support; LVAD; LVEDD; NF; OC; PP; PT; chest roentgenogram; computed tomography; inflow cannula; international normalized ratio; left ventricular assist device; left ventricular end-diastolic diameter; normal functioning; outflow cannula; pump pocket; pump thrombosis.

MeSH terms

  • Cardiac Surgical Procedures / methods
  • Female
  • Heart-Assist Devices / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prosthesis Implantation / methods
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Thrombosis / etiology
  • Thrombosis / prevention & control*