Complication Profile of the Berlin Heart EXCOR Biventricular Support in Children

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In chronic cardiomyopathy, mechanical circulatory support (MCS) plays an increasingly important role for children as the shortage of suitable donor hearts increases waiting time on the transplant list. We report our experience with the paracorporal Berlin Heart EXCOR System (Berlin Heart AG, Berlin, Germany) used as a biventricuclar assist device (BVAD). Nine patients with a BVAD EXCOR system were treated between 2006 and 2012; out of these patients, four were less than 18 years old (6, 14, 14, and 17 years old). Their diagnoses were postcardotomy failure (n = 1), dilatative cardiomyopathy (n = 2), and terminal heart failure (n = 1). Overall survival, waiting time for heart transplantation (HTx) and complication profile for the BVAD were analyzed retrospectively. Thirty days' mortality was 25% (n = 1). One child died after 84 days on support due to cerebral bleeding. Mean support time was 218.75 days (4, 84, 262, and 525 days). Pump chamber exchange was necessary three times due to pump chamber thrombosis (n = 2) and partial pump chamber membrane rupture (n = 1). Complications included: sepsis (n = 1), drive line infection requiring intravenous antibiotics (n = 2), and recurrent epistaxis (n = 3). Two children were successfully transplanted after 262/525 days on BVAD; they are currently at home (follow-up: 1.9 and 2.3 years). The EXCOR is a life-saving MCS system suitable for long-term paracorporeal biventricular assistance.

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