Background: Multiple types of mechanical circulatory support (MCS) devices are commonly used in heart failure patients. These devices carry risk for neurologic complications, specifically cardioembolic stroke. Alterations in blood flow play a role in the pathophysiology, however there is limited data regarding cerebrovascular hemodynamics in MCS patients. We used transcranial Doppler (TCD) to define hemodynamics of commonly used MCS devices.
Methods: We retrospectively examined charts from 2/2013 through 6/2016 for patients with MCS who underwent TCD, and obtained the following: peak systolic,end-diastolic velocities, mean flow velocities, pulsatility indices (PI) and number of high-intensity transient signals (HITS). Waveform morphologies were compared between devices.
Results: Of 1,796 TCDs studies screened, 62 TCD studies were from 32 MCS patients. Of these, 21 were on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), 15 had a left ventricular assist device (LVAD), 18 had total artificial heart (TAH), and 2 had intra-aortic balloon pumps (IABP). Waveforms in patients supported by ECMO demonstrated continuous flow without clear systolic peaks. The averaged mean MCA velocity was 57.57 (SD= 21.00) cm/sec and mean PI is 0.35 (0.17). LVAD averaged mean MCA velocity was 57.57 (14.38) cm/sec and mean PI of 0.45 (0.28). PIs were low in patients with continuous-flow LVADs. Impella patients had morphologically distinct pulsatile waveforms compared to other types of VADs. IABP had averaged mean velocity of 56.21 (14.78) cm/sec and mean PI of 0.77 (0.15). These waveforms demonstrated pronounced diastolic upstrokes not present in other devices. In TAH patients, mean MCA velocity was 73.69 (33.00) cm/sec and PI of 0.86 (0.40). Emboli detection was performed in 46 studies, and HITS were detected in 29 (63%). Of these 15 (51%) were administered 100% oxygen which suppressed >50% HITS in 10 (67%) patients.
Conclusion: Patients supported by MCS devices produce unique and characteristic waveforms on TCD studies. Further studies will describe normative values in this special population. HITS were not universally present and intermittently suppressible by oxygen, suggesting some may be gaseous in nature. Risk of stroke in patients with MCS and HITS is under study.