Temporary right ventricular mechanical circulatory support for the management of right ventricular failure in critically ill patients

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Management of right ventricular (RV) failure after left ventricular assist device (LVAD) implantation is not evidence based. Temporary circulatory assistance has recently been reported to be of value for managing postoperative RV failure after LVAD implantation, but only in small series of patients or isolated case reports. We report here our experience with the use of temporary right ventricular assist devices (RVADs) in LVAD recipients.


Forty-five of the 488 (9%) patients undergoing LVAD implantation between 2001 and 2011 at the Clinic for Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery in Bad Oeynhausen had RV failure requiring temporary RVAD. We analyzed preoperative data, complications, mortality at 6 months, and risk factors of death.


The LVAD patients receiving temporary RVAD were younger than the 443 recipients of LVAD alone. They were more likely to have mechanical ventilation and haemofiltration and their Michigan right ventricular risk score was higher. The LVAD patients with temporary RVAD had a higher mortality at 6 months: 53%, versus 25% for patients receiving LVAD only (P < .001). The univariate risk factors for death were high blood urea nitrogen and C-reactive protein concentrations, preoperative mechanical ventilation, preoperative hemofiltration, destination therapy, the use of temporary RVAD, and the development of RV failure. Multivariate analyses did not identify predictors of death.


The development of RV failure in LVAD recipients is a serious problem associated with high mortality. Temporary RV mechanical support is an acceptable way to manage postoperative RV failure in these severely ill LVAD recipients.

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