Surgical device exchange provides improved clinical outcomes compared to medical therapy in treating continuous-flow left ventricular assist device thrombosis

Artif Organs. 2020 Apr;44(4):367-374. doi: 10.1111/aor.13594. Epub 2019 Dec 9.


The purpose of this study is to compare clinical outcomes of left ventricular assist device (LVAD) patients with device thrombosis who underwent device exchange (DE) or medical therapy (MT) alone. Consecutive patients undergoing LVAD implant between July 2008 and December 2017 were included. Device thrombosis was diagnosed with comprehensive assessments including ramp test, laboratory data, device parameters, and clinical presentations. First, MT was initiated in all patients. After MT, DE was considered if device thrombosis was refractory to initial MT, and it caused end-organ impairment and/or hemodynamic instability. Among 319 consecutive LVAD patients, 43 patients (13.5%) were diagnosed with device thrombosis. DE was performed in 28 patients (DE group); device explant was performed in 1 patient. MT was continued in 14 patients (MT group). In-hospital mortality was significantly lower in the DE group than the MT group (3.6% [1/28] vs. 28.6% [4/14], P = .0184). One-year survival was significantly better in the DE group (74.0% vs. 30.1%; log-rank = .001), and freedom from cerebrovascular accident (CVA) at 1 year was greater in the DE group (87.1% vs. 47.7%; log-rank = .004). DE was associated with improved 1-year survival and fewer CVAs. Surgical intervention, if feasible, is recommended for LVAD device thrombosis.

Keywords: device exchange; left ventricular assist device; thrombosis.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Anticoagulants / administration & dosage
  • Chicago / epidemiology
  • Device Removal / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Heart Failure / mortality*
  • Heart Failure / therapy
  • Heart-Assist Devices / adverse effects*
  • Heparin / administration & dosage
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Thrombosis / drug therapy
  • Thrombosis / etiology
  • Thrombosis / surgery*


  • Anticoagulants
  • Heparin