Characteristics of Gastrointestinal Bleeding After Placement of Continuous-Flow Left Ventricular Assist Device: A Case Series

Joseph Marsano, Jay Desai, Shannon Chang, Michelle Chau, Mark Pochapin, Grigoriy E. Gurvits

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Background: Medical management of patients with continuous-flow left ventricular assist devices (LVADs) remains challenging for the gastroenterologist given their high risk of gastrointestinal bleeding (GIB) and need for continuous anticoagulation. Aims: Our aim was to better characterize LVAD patients who presented with a GIB at our facility and delineate the prevalence, presentation, time to diagnosis, management, and therapeutic endoscopic interventions, including small bowel tools that may offer additional benefit. Methods: We retrospectively reviewed adult patients (>18 years) who underwent LVAD implantation at our tertiary care facility between October 2011 and October 2013. Electronic medical records were reviewed for presenting symptoms, average days to initial and repeat GIB, hospital course, and techniques that led to diagnosis and hemostasis. Results: Eighteen patients underwent LVAD implantation, of which 61 % presented with a GIB for a total of 20 presentations (1.8 per patient). Mean time to initial GIB was 154 days. Patients required an average of 1.8 endoscopic procedures per admission. Esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD) and push enteroscopy (PE) were more likely to lead to a diagnosis, and EGD was the most commonly used diagnostic tool at initial presentation. Sixty percent of patients who initially received EGD presented with a recurrent GIB and required PE, which was diagnostic and therapeutic for small bowel angiodysplasias in 80 % of cases. Conclusion: We found a higher GIB rate compared with prior studies. Bleeding events were associated with multiple procedures and interventions. We recommend an algorithmic approach to LVAD patients who bleed. Our experience suggests that PE is warranted at initial presentation in order to achieve hemostasis, prevent recurrent GIB, and decrease subsequent readmission rates.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1859-1867
Number of pages9
JournalDigestive Diseases and Sciences
Issue number6
StatePublished - 5 Jun 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Gastrointestinal bleeding
  • LVAD
  • Push enteroscopy
  • Small bowel


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