Ventricular assist devices (VADs) help your heart pump blood from one of the main pumping chambers to the rest of your body or to the other side of the heart. These pumps may be implanted in your body or connected to a pump outside your body.
A ventricular assist device has three parts:
You will need general anesthesia when your VAD is implanted. This will make you sleep and be pain-free during the procedure.
A tube will connect the pump to your heart. Another tube will connect the pump to your aorta or one of your other major arteries. Another tube will be passed through your skin to connect the pump to the controller and batteries.
The VAD will take blood from your ventricle (main pumping chamber of the heart) through the tube that leads to the pump. Then the device will pump the blood back out to one of your arteries and through your body.
Surgery usually lasts 4 to 6 hours.
You may need a VAD if you have severe heart failure that cannot be controlled with medicine, pacing devices, or other treatments. You may get this device while you are on a waiting list for a heart transplant. Some people who get a VAD are very ill and may already be on a heart-lung support machine.
Not everyone with severe heart failure is a good candidate for this procedure.
Risks for this surgery are:
Most people will already be in the hospital for treatment of their heart failure.
Most people who are put on a VAD spend up to 5 days in the intensive care unit (ICU) after surgery. You may stay in the hospital from 2 to 8 weeks after you have had the pump placed. During this time you will learn how to care for the pump.
A VAD may help people who have heart failure live longer. It can also help improve quality of life.
VAD; RVAD; LVAD; BVAD; Right ventricular assist device; Left ventricular assist device; Biventricular assist device; Heart pump; Left ventricular assist system; LVAS; Implantable ventricular assist device
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Mcmurray JJV, Pfeffer MA. Heart failure: management and prognosis. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 59.
Mehra MR, Griffith BP. Assisted circulation in the treatment of heart failure. In: Bonow RO, Mann DL, Zipes DP, Libby P, eds. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 32.
Updated by: Michael A. Chen, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Cardiology, Harborview Medical Center, University of Washington Medical School, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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