The continuing evolution of mechanical ventricular assistance

Michael Argenziano, Mehmet C. Oz, Eric A. Rose

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


A great number of patients suffer and die of the sequelae of acute and chronic heart failure each year. Although advances in medical and surgical therapy have benefited many of these patients, most have disease that is refractory to any definitive therapy. For these patients cardiac transplantation is the only remaining hope. Unfortunately, because of the increasing demand for donor organs in the face of a fixed and limited supply, this option is available to only a small percentage of these patients. Even in patients accepted for transplantation, a significant waiting list mortality has been observed. A variety of VADs have been developed since the first successful case of mechanical cardiac assistance more than 30 years ago. These devices differ in basic mechanical function, method of insertion, and degree of implantability and thus have different indications and potential applications. Whereas the intraaortic balloon pump and centrifugal pumps are effective short-term support modalities, extracorporeal and implantable pulsatile devices have been used successfully for long-term support of patients with reversible and nonreversible cardiac failure. Although these pumps have most commonly been used as bridges to transplantation, increasing clinical experience has supported the notion of long-term mechanical assistance as a definitive therapy for patients with end-stage heart disease. Although complications, particularly infection and thromboembolism, pose significant challenges and long-term device reliability remains to be fully determined, available implantable devices appear to be capable of providing effective long-term support. As data are obtained from currently ongoing trials comparing VAD support with medical therapy for end-stage heart failure, ethical and economic issues will assume increasing importance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)317-386
Number of pages70
JournalCurrent Problems in Surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1997
Externally publishedYes


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