Durable ventricular assist device support for failing systemic morphologic right ventricle: early results

Ann Thorac Surg. 2014 Dec;98(6):2122-9. doi: 10.1016/j.athoracsur.2014.06.054. Epub 2014 Oct 22.


Background: The systemic morphologic right ventricle (RV) in congenitally corrected transposition of the great arteries or after atrial switch for transposition of the great arteries is associated with late ventricular failure. Although the role of the left ventricular assist device (LVAD) in supporting the failing LV is established, the indications and outcomes of using LVAD in a systemic RV remain unclear. We assessed the role of a third-generation LVAD for systemic RV support.

Methods: Seven patients (mean age, 36 years) received the HeartWare (HeartWare International Inc, Framingham, MA) VAD for systemic RV failure (congenitally corrected transposition of the great arteries in 1 and after atrial switch in 6). Four patients (57%) had severe subpulmonic LV failure, and aggressive perioperative diuresis with or without hemofiltration was used to offload the subpulmonic LV. The indications of VAD were (1) bridge to transplant in 3 and (2) bridge to decision for a high transpulmonary gradient in 4. Transplantation outcome was compared with systemic RV failure without VAD bridge in 19 patients (years 1989 to 2013).

Results: Systemic RV support alone was achieved in all patients, with no early deaths (≤30 days). Overall, 6 (86%) returned home, 3 (44%) received a transplant, 2 (28%) died of noncardiac causes, and 2 (28%) continue on VAD support (median support, 232 days). Repeat catheterization (n = 4) showed an improved median transpulmonary gradient in 3 patients (median 18.5 mm Hg pre-VAD vs 8.0 mm Hg post-VAD). Two bridge-to-decision patients received transplants at 640 and 685 days. The stroke rate on VAD support was 43% (2 thromboembolic and 1 hemorrhagic; 3 with satisfactory recovery). De novo aortic regurgitation was 29% (n = 2; 1 valve replacement). All patients (n = 3) survived transplantation (vs 10.5% early mortality without VAD bridge; p = 1.00) and were well at follow-up (range, 53 to 700 days).

Conclusions: The third-generation VAD provides durable support for systemic RV failure as a bridge to transplant and as a strategy to reduce pulmonary vascular resistance. Although concomitant subpulmonic LV failure is common, systemic RV support alone was achieved in all patients.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Durable Medical Equipment*
  • Echocardiography
  • Equipment Design
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Heart Failure / etiology
  • Heart Failure / physiopathology
  • Heart Failure / prevention & control*
  • Heart Ventricles / diagnostic imaging
  • Heart Ventricles / physiopathology
  • Heart-Assist Devices*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Time Factors
  • Transposition of Great Vessels / complications*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vascular Resistance
  • Ventricular Dysfunction, Right / complications
  • Ventricular Dysfunction, Right / physiopathology
  • Ventricular Dysfunction, Right / surgery*
  • Ventricular Function, Right / physiology*