Active Clearance of Chest Tubes Reduces Re-Exploration for Bleeding After Ventricular Assist Device Implantation

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Chest tubes are utilized to evacuate shed blood after left ventricular assist device (LVAD) implantation, however, they can become clogged, leading to retained blood. We implemented a protocol for active tube clearance (ATC) of chest tubes to determine if this might reduce interventions for retained blood. A total of 252 patients underwent LVAD implantation. Seventy-seven patients had conventional chest tube drainage (group 1), whereas 175 patients had ATC (group 2). A univariate and multivariate analysis adjusting for the use of conventional sternotomy (CS) and minimally invasive left thoracotomy (MILT) was performed. Univariate analysis revealed a 65% reduction in re-exploration (43–15%, p < 0.001), and an 82% reduction in delayed sternal closure (DSC; 34–6%, p <0.001). In a sub-analysis of CS only, there continued to be statistically significant 53% reduction in re-exploration (45% vs. 21%, p = 0.0011), and a 77% reduction in DSC (35% vs. 8%, p < 0.001) in group 2. Using a logistic regression model adjusting for CS versus MILT, there was a significant reduction in re-exploration (odds ratio [OR] = 0.44 [confidence interval {CI} = 0.23–0.85], p = 0.014) and DSC (OR = 0.20 [CI = 0.08–0.46], p <0.001) in group 2. Actively maintaining chest tube patency after LVAD implantation significantly reduces re-exploration and DSC.

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