Pulsatile Paracorporeal Assist Devices in Children and Adolescents with Biventricular Failure

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Abstract

Children with heart failure unresponsive to medical therapy are left with few options for survival. Pulsatile paracorporeal ventricular assist devices are life-saving options for such patients, allowing for bridge to transplantation or cardiac recovery. From March 1997 to July 2004, 12 patients underwent implantation of Thoratec biventricular assist devices (BVADs) for refractory heart failure. Mean age was 14.9 (range 7–20) and mean BSA was 1.7 (range 1.1–1.9). Indications for support included end-stage cardiomyopathy (n = 10), myocarditis (n = 1), and postcardiotomy heart failure (n = 1). Preimplant variables included 50% of patients requiring mechanical ventilation (mean 4.2 days), hyperbilirubinemia in 58%, and acute renal failure in 50%. Mean duration of support was 64.5 (range 2–175) days. Overall survival was 83%, with nine patients successfully bridged to transplantation (75%). One patient exhibited recovery allowing for device explantation, and two patients died while on BVADs. Complications included bleeding requiring reoperation in 25% (n = 3), stroke in 8% (n = 1), driveline infections in 17% (n = 2), and device malfunction in one patient. Pulsatile paracorporeal BVADs can be used successfully in children and adolescents with heart failure. These results warrant consideration of using available miniaturized technology in the United States for the support of smaller children with intractable biventricular failure.

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