Ventricular Assist Device (VAD) Implantation

A left ventricular assist device (LVAD) is a durable mechanical circulatory support (MCS) system designed to help a weakened heart pump blood from its left lower chamber/ventricle to the rest of the body. A VAD consists of a pump, a tube that transports blood from the pump to the aorta and an external power source and control unit, which are connected to the pump via driveline.

Tampa General Hospital is proud to offer the latest advances in MCS therapy, including the newest technology, through our dedicated Heart Failure Center of Excellence in our comprehensive Heart & Vascular Institute. According to U.S. News & World Report, TGH currently ranks as one of the Nation's Best Hospitals for Heart & Vascular Care for 2024-25. Since the 1990s, the renowned research team in our MCS Program has been heavily involved in VAD trials, including the landmark studies that led to the early approval of the HeartMate 3™ LVAD. TGH is also a member of the Heart Hope Consortium of VAD Centers.

What Conditions Can Be Treated With VAD Implantation?

VAD implantation is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use as:

A Bridge to Transplant

If a patient is waiting for heart transplantation, a VAD may be implanted to provide temporary cardiac assistance until a suitable donor organ becomes available. This is important because heart failure can worsen while a patient waits for a transplant, which can lead to organ damage.

Destination Therapy

If a patient is not a candidate for heart transplantation and their severe heart failure cannot be managed with other therapies, such as a pacemaker, lifestyle changes or medications, a VAD may be implanted to provide permanent cardiac support and improve the patient’s quality of life.

A Bridge to Recovery

Heart failure can sometimes be reversed. In the meantime, a VAD can be implanted to provide temporary cardiac support while the weakened heart recovers.

How Is a VAD Implanted?

Usually, a VAD is implanted through open-heart surgery, standard sternotomy or  lateral thoracotomy.

Unlike traditional open-heart surgery, which requires division of the breastbone (sternotomy), lateral thoracotomy involves small incisions between the ribs. This technique can potentially lead to:

  • Reduced trauma to the chest
  • Decreased blood loss
  • Lower risk of infection
  • A shorter recovery
  • A smaller scar
  • A better cosmetic outcome

For certain patients, lateral thoracotomy can be a suitable alternative to open-heart surgery for VAD implantation, offering the patient a quicker return to daily activities.

What to Expect With VAD Implantation

VAD implantation is a medical procedure that involves several key steps:

  • The patient’s treatment team will perform a thorough evaluation to confirm that VAD implantation is appropriate.
  • The VAD will be implanted during a surgical procedure, such as traditional sternotomy or  lateral thoracotomy.
  • After the VAD is implanted, the patient will be closely monitored while they recover in the hospital.
  • The patient’s treatment team will explain how to care for the VAD, change the batteries and watch for signs of complications, such as bleeding, blood clots, infection and device malfunction.
  • After the patient is discharged from the hospital, their treatment team will continue to monitor their progress through regular follow-up appointments.

While VAD implantation can significantly improve a patient’s survival and quality of life, they should expect a period of adjustment and ongoing medical management to optimize the benefits of this advanced therapy.

How Effective Is VAD Implantation?

Multiple clinical studies have provided evidence of the effectiveness of VAD implantation in prolonging and improving the lives of many individuals with complex cardiac conditions. Within the general medical community, this therapy is widely acknowledged as an essential and successful intervention in the management of acute and chronic heart failure, cardiomyopathy and cardiogenic shock.

Benefit From World-Class Care at TGH

In February 2024, TGH’s VAD Program received the Joint Commission Disease-Specific Care (DSC) Certification for VAD for the eighth cycle. We earned this distinction by demonstrating our compliance with The Joint Commission’s rigorous national standards for healthcare quality and safety in VAD-specific care.

The board-certified cardiac surgeons in our Heart Failure Center of Excellence have the extensive expertise and advanced technology necessary to perform highly complex heart surgeries. For more information, please call (813) 844-8220. You can also reach us via email at

If you would like to refer a patient, please call (813) 844-8220 or click here for our Heart Failure Referral Form. Candidates for advanced heart failure care can be referred to our Heart Failure Center of Excellence to be evaluated for MCS therapy as part of TGH’s continuum of care. Through continued collaboration and partnership with the referring physician, TGH will help to ensure the best possible outcome and quality of life for the patient.

To transfer a patient from another facility, please call 1-800-844-7979. Available 24 hours a day, the TGH Transfer Center can assist with a safe and effective patient transfer.