Review Article on Left Ventricular Assist Devices

Pediatric left ventricular assist device

Iki Adachi, Sarah Burki, Farhan Zafar, David Luis Simon Morales


The domain of pediatric ventricular assist device (VAD) has recently gained considerable attention. Despite the fact that, historically, the practice of pediatric mechanical circulatory support (MCS) has lagged behind that of adult patients, this gap between the two groups is narrowing. Currently, the Berlin EXCOR VAD is the only pediatric-specific durable VAD approved by the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The prospective Berlin Heart trial demonstrated a successful outcome, either bridge to transplantation (BTT), or in rare instances, bridge to recovery, in approximately 90% of children. Also noted during the trial was, however, a high incidence of adverse events such as embolic stroke, bleeding and infection. This has incentivized some pediatric centers to utilize adult implantable continuous-flow devices, for instance the HeartMate II and HeartWare HVAD, in children. As a result of this paradigm shift, the outlook of pediatric VAD support has dramatically changed: Treatment options previously unavailable to children, including outpatient management and even destination therapy, have now been becoming a reality. The sustained demand for continued device miniaturization and technological refinements is anticipated to extend the range of options available to children—HeartMate 3 and HeartWare MVAD are two examples of next generation VADs with potential pediatric application, both of which are presently undergoing clinical trials. A pediatric-specific continuous-flow device is also on the horizon: the redesigned Infant Jarvik VAD (Jarvik 2015) is undergoing pre-clinical testing, with a randomized clinical trial anticipated to follow thereafter. The era of pediatric VADs has begun. In this article, we discuss several important aspects of contemporary VAD therapy, with a particular focus on challenges unique to the pediatric population.

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