Durable ventricular assist devices (VADs) have significantly improved survival to transplantation among children with advanced stages of heart failure. The fundamental goals of VAD therapy include decreasing mortality, minimizing adverse events, and improving quality of life. As the pediatric VAD experience has evolved with reduced device related complications and improved survival, VAD therapy is being considered not only as a bridge to transplantation (BTT) but also as a bridge to decision (BTD) and as destination therapy (DT). Data regarding pediatric DT VAD are limited to anecdotal or case reports of children being supported for long periods with VADs and by default being classified as DT VAD. This article reviews current trends in the use of DT VAD and adverse events in children vs adults on VAD, and provides a framework for patient selection with the use of a multidisciplinary approach including palliative care. The general approach to determining DT VAD candidacy should include: 1) a reasonable success that the patient will survive the peri- and postoperative state; and 2) a high likelihood that the patient will be able to be discharged out of hospital and have adequate caregiver support. Patients with muscular dystrophy and failing Fontan physiology are examples of pediatric populations for whom DT VAD may be considered and which require unique considerations.
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