Hospital Readmissions After Continuous-Flow Left Ventricular Assist Device Implantation: Incidence, Causes, and Cost Analysis

Ann Thorac Surg. 2015 Sep;100(3):884-9. doi: 10.1016/j.athoracsur.2015.03.010. Epub 2015 Jun 19.


Background: We investigated the incidence and causes of unplanned hospital readmissions after continuous-flow (CF) left ventricular assist device (LVAD) implantation. We also analyzed the impact of unplanned readmissions on post-CF-LVAD survival and the costs associated with each cause of readmission.

Methods: We retrospectively reviewed 126 patients who underwent implantation with a CF-LVAD from January 2007 to December 2013. The timing of readmissions, hospital length of stay, and total length of device support were evaluated. Patients were followed up while receiving support, until transplantation, or until death. Direct hospital costs associated with each readmission were analyzed.

Results: In all, 103 patients underwent implantation for bridge to transplantation and 19 patients for destination therapy; 68 patients were readmitted 156 times (2.2 times/patient) as of the end of follow-up. The median follow-up period was 11 months. While receiving device support, patients spent 93% of their time out of the hospital. The causes of readmission included gastrointestinal bleeding (19%), driveline infection (13%), and stroke (8%). The median time to first readmission was 35 days. Thirty (44%) patients were readmitted within 30 days after discharge. The median direct hospital cost of a single readmission was $7,546. Device malfunction and arrhythmias were the most costly causes of readmission. There was no significant difference in long-term survival between readmitted patients and those who were not readmitted.

Conclusions: Gastrointestinal bleeding and CF-LVAD-related infections were the leading causes of readmission. Patients with a CF-LVAD spent 93% of their time out of hospital after implantation, and readmissions did not have a negative impact on long-term survival. New approaches to minimize these adverse events will continue to improve the efficacy and decrease the cost of CF-LVAD therapy.

MeSH terms

  • Costs and Cost Analysis
  • Female
  • Heart-Assist Devices*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Readmission / economics*
  • Patient Readmission / statistics & numerical data*
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology
  • Postoperative Complications / etiology
  • Prosthesis Implantation*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Survival Rate