[Artificial heart and heart transplantation.]

Klinik für Herz- und thorakale Gefäßchirurgie, UKGM - Universitätsklinik Marburg, Baldingerstr. 1, 35033, Marburg, Deutschland, .
Herz (Impact Factor: 0.69). 10/2012; 37(8). DOI: 10.1007/s00059-012-3702-1
Source: PubMed


The advances in the treatment of many different heart diseases have on the one side led to a significant prolongation of life expectancy but have also contributed to an increase of patients with heart failure. This tendency is supported even more so by the demographic development of our population. The replacement of insufficient organs has always been in the focus of medical research. In the 1960's Shumway and Lower developed the technique of cardiac transplantation and also worked intensively on the treatment and diagnosis of rejection. However, it was Barnard who, in 1967 performed the first human cardiac transplantation. Other centers followed worldwide but the mortality was high and the new therapy was controversially discussed in many journals. By the introduction of cyclosporin as a new immunosuppressive agent in 1978, results improved rapidly and cardiac transplantation became an accepted therapeutic option for patients with end stage heart failure and also for children and newborns with congenital heart defects. Today, with newer immunosuppressive regimens and improved techniques, cardiac transplantation offers excellent results with a long-term survival of nearly 50% of patients after 15 years and among the pediatric population even after 20 years. However, the donor organ shortage as well as the increasing number of elderly patients with end stage heart failure has necessitated work on other alternatives. Neither stem cell transplantation nor xenotransplantation of animal organs are yet an option and there are still some obstacles to be overcome. In contrast, the development of so-called artificial hearts has made significant progress. While the first implants of totally artificial hearts were associated with many comorbidities and patients were seriously debilitated, new devices today offer a reasonable quality of life and long-term survival. Most of these systems are no longer replacing but mainly assisting the heart, which remains in place. These ventricular assist devices have been used as a bridge to transplantation for a long time and are now also offered as a destination therapy for patients who for a variety of reasons are no longer amenable to heart transplantation. Further miniaturization and a decrease of the costs will make these devices a realistic alternative to a sole medical therapy and studies have already proven the superiority in terms of survival as well as rehospitalization rates. However, at present they are still not an alternative to heart transplantation.

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    ABSTRACT: Background and aim: Ventricular assist devices (VAD) have become an established therapy for patients with end-stage heart failure. The two main reasons for this development are the shortage of appropriate donor organs and the increasing number of patients waiting for heart transplantation (HTX). Furthermore, the enormous advances in the technical equipment and the rising clinical experience have improved the implantation technique, the durability and the long-term patient outcomes. Methods: We reviewed all cases of left ventricular assist device (LVAD) implantation at our Erlangen Heart Center during January 2000-July 2013. The main aim of this study was to analyze the underlying pathology from the cardiac apex removed during the implantation. From all patients, we created a follow-up, analyzed the pathological features with the clinical diagnoses and described the overall outcome. Results: VAD implantation was performed in 266 cases at our center in the last 13 years (2.2% of the total of 12254 cardiac surgical operations in that period). From these patients, 223 underwent LVAD or biventricular (BVAD) implantation; the remaining received a right (RVAD) implantation. The most frequent underlying clinical diagnoses were dilated (n = 84, 37.7%, DCM) or ischemic (n = 61, 27.4%, ICM) cardiomyopathy. The pathological findings in the apex biopsy were generally non-specific and showed variable interstitial myocardial fibrosis with evidence of fibre loss, fatty degeneration and variable irregular atrophy of muscle fibres, consistent with dilated and ischemic cardiomyopathies as the most frequent causes of heart failure in these patients. Only a few cases showed other specific features such as myocarditis and AL-amyloidosis. Conclusions: Pathological findings in cardiac apex removed during LVAD implantation are rather non-specific and they generally reflect the late stage or consequences of chronic myocardial damage in cases of dilated or ischemic cardiomyopathies. Variable patchy chronic inflammatory changes may be observed in cardiomyopathies as a non-specific reaction caused by myocardial fiber damage and should not lead to misinterpretation as evidence of myocarditis or revision of original diagnosis.
    The Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgeon 10/2014; 7(9):5549-56. DOI:10.1055/s-0035-1544327 · 0.98 Impact Factor

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