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Ventricular Assist Device Information

Ventricular Assist Device

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 HeartMate II, HeartWare LVAD, CentriMag, Impella, Syncardia Total Artificial Heart (TAH), 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.