Total artificial heart bridge to transplantation: a 9-year experience with 62 patients.
ABSTRACT The SynCardia CardioWest total artificial heart (CardioWest TAH) is a biventricular, orthotopic, pneumatic, pulsatile blood pump driven by an external console. For each ventricle, the length of the blood-flow path is shorter and the inflow and outflow valves are larger than in any other bridge-to-transplant device, resulting in greater blood flow at smaller pre-load. Such a device should be optimal for bridging transplant candidates who have biventricular failure and for whom all other therapies have failed.
From January 1, 1993, to April 1, 2002, we prospectively studied 62 consecutive CardioWest TAH implant recipients to document safety and efficacy in bridge to transplantation. We used multisystem monitoring and multidrug therapy for anti-coagulation in 58 patients starting September 1, 1994.
Before implantation, patients were critically ill with biventricular heart failure. Mortality in this group from the time of implantation until transplantation was 23%. Causes of death during device support included multi-organ failure (6), sepsis (3), and valve entrapment (2). Forty-eight patients underwent transplantation (77%). Forty-two survived to hospital discharge (68% of the total, 88% of those undergoing transplantation). Adverse events included bleeding (20%), device malfunction (5%), fit complications (3%), mediastinal infections (5%), visceral embolus (1.6%), and stroke during support (1.6%). The linearized stroke rate was 0.068 events per patient-year.
Sixty-eight percent of critically ill transplant candidates for whom medical therapy failed were bridged to transplantation with the CardioWest TAH and survived long-term. Most deaths that occurred during device support were related to pre-implant problems. Infection and stroke were rare events. Therefore, we recommend the CardioWest TAH as the biventricular bridge-to-transplant device of choice.