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VENTRICULAR ASSIST DEVICE

Ventricular Assist Device (VAD) Information

A ventricular assist device (VAD) is a mechanical pump that can help a damaged heart push blood throughout the body. A VAD isn’t an artificial heart, but rather a device that can supplement a failing ventricle’s pumping motion to increase circulation. Since 2002, Tampa General Hospital’s Mechanical Circulatory Support Program has helped patients with end-stage heart disease by implanting VADs. In fact, as of December 2017, more than 600 patients have received VAD support with one or more long-term VADs. This high volume makes TGH one of the busiest centers in the nation for VAD therapy.

When the surgeons at Tampa General put a VAD in place, it is intended to serve one of the three purposes – as a bridge to recovery, a bridge to transplant, or a destination therapy.

BRIDGE TO RECOVERY

A ventricular assist device can be implanted in patients who are experiencing temporary heart failure. One of the most common reasons for using a VAD in this manner is to aid the heart as it recovers from surgery. A VAD may be temporarily implanted to assist the heart for a few days after the procedure. It is removed once the heart has recovered from the operation.

BRIDGE TO TRANSPLANT

Patients who have end-stage heart disease may be placed on the waiting list to receive a heart transplant, and even with Tampa General’s short times to transplant, these patients may require immediate assistance to survive. For this reason, our surgeons will sometimes implant a ventricular assist device in someone who is awaiting a heart transplant. It can be removed when a donor heart becomes available.

DESTINATION THERAPY

Not everyone who has severe heart disease will be accepted into Tampa General’s Heart Transplant Program. Some patients cannot receive a transplant due to advanced age or other factors, but a VAD may be able to improve their circulation. In these cases, a VAD is left in place for an extended period of time as an alternative to transplant.

TGH surgeons will determine which specific ventricular assist device is best for a patient’s situation and body type. Commonly used ventricular assist devices include the CentriMag, Impella, and ECMO.

To learn more about Tampa General’s Mechanical Circulatory Support Program, please call 1-800-505-7769 (press 2 for the Ventricular Assist Device Program) or email us at vadteam@tgh.org. 

Click here for the Cardiothoracic Transplant and VAD Programs Referral Form.