Ventricular assist devices (VADs) are implantable mechanical pumps used as a form of heart failure treatment to improve blood flow. There are three types of VADs. A left ventricular assist device (LVAD) helps the left ventricle to pump and is the most commonly used. A right ventricular assist device (RVAD) supports the right ventricular pumping function. A biventricular assist device (BiVAD), which supports the pumping action of both the right and left ventricles, is also available.
Ventricular assist device may be used for a variety of conditions
Ventricular assist devices are used for three primary purposes:
In patients waiting for a heart transplant, VADs are used as a temporary bridge to transplantation while waiting for a donor heart
In patients whose heart failure is potentially reversible, these devices offer a bridge to recovery, helping support the heart while it heals
In patients with irreversible heart failure who are not ideal candidates for heart transplant, VADs provide destination (long-term) therapy, helping assist blood circulation for many years
Our expert cardiac surgeons at Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) evaluate patients to determine most appropriate assist device. In addition to small, quite devices that can be used as either a bridge to transplantation or destination therapy, we also have available the world's smallest ventricular assist device that our surgeons use during high-risk percutaneous coronary intervention, such as coronary angioplasty, or stenting to help assist blood circulation. New types of devices are being evaluated, including an artificial heart device that has the potential to be used as a bridge to transplantation for patients with biventricular heart failure, allowing patients to return home while awaiting a donor heart.
Ventricular assist devices at Brigham and Women's Hospital
The BWH Ventricular Assist Device Program, part of the Carl J. and Ruth Shapiro Cardiovascular Center, offers state-of-the-art treatments to patients with advanced heart failure. The Program, one of the largest in New England, is at the forefront of circulatory assist device research and treatment. In 1999, our cardiac surgeons implanted the first left ventricular assist device as destination therapy in New England. The BWH VAD Program was the only program in New England to participate in a landmark trial that established the benefit of LVAD for patients with advanced heart failure. The BWH VAD Program is closely associated with our innovative Heart Transplant Program, which performed the first successful heart transplant in New England in 1984 and continues to be one of the busiest such programs in the region.
In addition to ventricular assist devices, our cardiac specialists at BWH provide atrial fibrillation treatment, including pacemaker surgery to control abnormal heart rhythms. The Cardiovascular Center at BWH in Boston offers outstanding care for patients across the spectrum of cardiovascular diseases.