Successful Treatment of Pediatric Ventricular Assist Device Thrombosis

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Pump thrombosis represents a significant cause of morbidity and mortality in patients on continuous flow ventricular assist devices (CF-VAD). Pump thrombosis in the pediatric CF-VAD population has been reported between 11% and 44%, with the largest reported series from the PediMACS registry reporting a rate of approximately 15%. We report our early experience with four pediatric patients who developed pump thrombosis on a CF-VAD. Our limited experience suggests that the treatment of pediatric VAD thrombosis can be approached with similar principles to the adult population. Our current strategy includes:

i. Initiating treatment with bivalirudin for an isolated rise in lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) with no corresponding rapid rise in plasma-free hemoglobin which may prevent further progression.

ii. Treatment with a low-dose systemic tissue plasminogen activator (TPA) protocol as opposed to targeted therapy via catheter intervention if bivalirudin fails.

iii. If there are concerns with respect to the impact of hemolysis on kidney function or the patient is close to a previous surgery, device exchange can be considered.

The balance between achieving appropriate anticoagulation/antiplatelet therapy in the face of bleeding/hemorrhagic complications remains a challenge. There is a need for larger studies in the pediatric population to outline an algorithm for the definitive management of VAD thrombosis.

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