Long-term follow-up of thoratec ventricular assist device bridge-to-recovery patients successfully removed from support after recovery of ventricular function

Academic Article


  • Background: In certain forms of severe heart failure there is sufficient improvement in cardiac function during ventricular assist device (VAD) support to allow removal of the device. However, it is critical to know whether there is sustained recovery of the heart and long-term patient survival if VAD bridging to recovery is to be considered over the option of transplantation. Methods: To determine long-term outcome of survivors of VAD bridge-to-recovery procedures, we retrospectively evaluated 22 patients with non-ischemic heart failure successfully weaned from the Thoratec left ventricular assist device (LVAD) or biventricular assist device (BVAD) after recovery of ventricular function at 14 medical centers. All patients were in imminent risk of dying and were selected for VAD support using standard bridge-to-transplant requirements. There were 12 females and 10 males with an average age of 32 (range, 12-49). The etiologies were 12 with myocarditis, 7 with cardiomyopathies (4 post-partum [PPCM], 1 viral [VCM], and 2 idiopathic [IDCM]), and 3 with a combination of myocarditis and cardiomyopathy. BVADs were used in 13 patients and isolated LVADs in 9 patients, for an average duration of 57 days (range, 11-190 days), before return of ventricular function and successful weaning from the device. Post-VAD survival was compared with 43 VAD bridge-to-transplant patients with the same etiologies who underwent cardiac transplantation instead of device weaning. Results: Nineteen of the 22 patients are currently alive. Three patients required heart transplantation, 1 within 1 day, 2 at 12 and 13 months post-weaning, and 2 died at 2.5 and 6 months. The remaining 17 patients are alive with their native hearts after an average of 3.2 years (range, 1.2-10 years). The actuarial survival of native hearts (transplant-free survival) post-VAD support is 86% at 1 year and 77% at 5 years, which was not significantly different (p = 0.94) from that of post-VAD transplanted patients, also at 86% and 77%, respectively. Conclusion: Long-term survival for bridge-to-recovery with VADs for acute cardiomyopathies and myocarditis is equivalent to that for cardiac transplantation. Recovery of the native heart, which can take weeks to months of VAD support, is the most desirable clinical outcome and should be actively sought, with transplantation used only after recovery of ventricular function has been ruled out.
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    Author List

  • Farrar DJ; Holman WR; McBride LR; Kormos RL; Icenogle TB; Hendry PJ; Moore CH; Loisance DY; El-Banayosy A; Frazier H
  • Start Page

  • 516
  • End Page

  • 521
  • Volume

  • 21
  • Issue

  • 5