Minimal-Access Left Ventricular Assist Device Implantation

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The left ventricular assist device (LVAD) is typically implanted through a full sternotomy on cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB). Minimally invasive surgery (MIS) modifications include multiple smaller incisions, using “virgin” territory, and minimized CPB time.


Forty-two LVAD implantations were retrospectively reviewed. Twenty-five minimally invasive implantations (MIS, 20 HeartMate II and 5 HeartWare) were compared with 17 sternotomy implantations (12 HeartMate II and 5 HeartWare). The choice of MIS incisions was device dependent: (1) three separate incisions for the HeartMate II or (2) two incisions for the HeartWare device. Four HeartWare LVADs were implanted off-pump (three using the MIS approach).


The median patient age was 52 years (range, 18–69 years). Overall survival was 81% at a mean (SD) follow-up of 495 (375) days. Thirty-day mortality was 9.5% (one MIS and three sternotomy patients). Five patients (11.9%) died while on LVAD, 18 (42.9%) underwent transplantation, 6 (14.3%) underwent weaning and explantation, and 13 (31.0%) remained on support. Preoperative ventilatory and circulatory supports were more common in the sternotomy group. The MIS patients had shorter CPB time [51.4 (34.9) vs 83.6 (40.4) minutes, P = 0.014] and showed a trend toward lower red blood cell and platelet transfusion requirement. The durations of hospitalization, inotropic support, intensive care unit stay, and LVAD support were not significantly different.


Minimally invasive surgery LVAD implantation is feasible. The shorter CPB duration and off-pump approach may be advantageous. Avoiding sternotomy may also reduce adhesions encountered during subsequent cardiac transplantation.

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