Tampa General Hospital Leads Innovation with the First Implantations of Dual Heart Pumps

Published: Sep 15, 2023

Tampa General Hospital and USF Health Morsani College of Medicine physicians were the first ever to perform a groundbreaking heart procedure combining two ventricular assist devices and the first in Florida to use a new right ventricular assist device.



Tampa, FL (Sept. 15, 2023) – As part of its commitment to driving innovation and world-class care, Tampa General Hospital (TGH) and USF Health Morsani College of Medicine physicians performed two groundbreaking surgeries that can potentially expand access to care for acute heart failure patients. About 6.2 million adults in the United States suffer from heart failure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


For the first time anywhere, Dr. Lucian Lozonschi, director of the Cardiothoracic Surgery Center of Excellence, Tampa General Hospital, and professor and chief of the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery in the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine, in December 2022, performed a procedure in which two ventricular assist devices (VADs) were implanted into a patient — the new Impella RP Flex with SmartAssist RVAD and the HeartMate 3™ LVAD with Full MagLev™ Flow Technology. VADs (left, or LVAD, and right, or RVAD) are an option for patients experiencing acute heart failure.


The Impella RP Flex assists the right side of the heart in pumping while the HeartMate 3™ pump assists the left side. “Combining both devices is a real game changer,” Lozonschi said. “Using both devices serves as complete heart replacement and it’ll change cardiothoracic care. Advanced heart failure is a serious condition in which the heart is too weak to pump on its own and managing quality of life is a major component of treating it. We hope these two advanced technologies will create treatment opportunities for patients whose options had previously been limited.”


The Impella RP Flex RVAD (from Abiomed) and the HeartMate 3™ LVAD (from Abbott) can be used for treating some of the most severe end-stage heart failure cases. The technologies are used for patients, prior to receiving a transplant or to help patients better manage their condition.


One of the world’s smallest heart pumps, the Impella RP Flex provides temporary right heart circulatory support and treats acute right heart failure for up to 14 days. The Impella RP Flex is implanted via the internal jugular vein, which enables patient mobility.


The HeartMate 3, first approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2017 for adults awaiting a heart transplant and FDA-approved in 2018 for long-term use in adults, is a small pump that is a longer-term solution for heart failure patients. It helps to circulate blood through the body and provides an artificial pulse. TGH surgeons are among the few surgeons in the country who can implant without going through the breastbone by using a minimally invasive procedure. Implantation of both devices can serve as an alternative for treatments, such as total artificial heart replacement or high doses of medications. Results of the MOMENTUM 3 study, announced in August 2022, showed for the first time that a heart pump can extend patient survival to five years and beyond for those with advanced heart failure.


Before the dual RVAD and LVAD procedure, Dr. Hiram Bezerra, professor in the Division of Cardiovascular Sciences in the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine and director of the Interventional Cardiology Center of Excellence at Tampa General, and Dr. Swaroop Bommareddi, assistant professor in the Department of Surgery in the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine and a cardiothoracic surgeon at TGH, were the first in Florida and fifth in the U.S. to implant the Impella RP Flex RVAD into a patient.


“This new, innovative technology brings the opportunity to bring comprehensive and advanced options to patients experiencing acute right heart failure,” Bezerra said. “By allowing a patient’s heart to rest and recover, we can help improve their quality of life.”


The Impella RP Flex RVAD received Food and Drug Administration (FDA) premarket approval in October 2022.The management of right-sided heart failure is complex. The new right-sided device provides another tool in our armamentarium. In addition, when used, it offers patients the opportunity for early mobilization, which helps speed up their recovery,” Bommareddi said.


U.S. News & World Report has recognized Tampa General as “high performing" in Cardiology & Heart Surgery, meaning it is ranked among the top 10% of U.S. hospitals for 2023-2024. Tampa General also earned special recognition from U.S. News & World Report as one of the best hospitals for heart failure and heart attack care for 2023-2024. The academic health system’s Heart & Vascular Institute includes board-certified cardiac and vascular surgeons, general cardiologists, interventional cardiologists, heart failure specialists, electrophysiologists, radiologists, specialized cardiac and vascular care nurses and technologists. For more information about the TGH Heart & Vascular Institute, please visit https://www.tgh.org/institutes-and-services/heart-and-vascular-institute.


Since 1985, when it was the first hospital in Florida to perform a heart transplant, Tampa General has become known as a leader in VAD devices. For more information about the TGH Heart Transplant Center, please visit https://www.tgh.org/institutes-and-services/transplant-institute/heart-transplant-center.