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Ventricular assist device currently in clinical trials at UCLA offers bridge to transplant and destination therapy for heart failure

09/01/2006

Cardiac Surgery

Left ventricular assist devices (LVADs) have the potential to prolong the lives of people with end-stage heart disease in two ways. They can serve as a bridge to heart transplantation, helping to keep patients alive while they await a donor organ. Or, they can serve as a destination therapy, providing long-term circulatory assistance to patients who are not candidates for transplantation. The HeartMate II, a mechanical assist device for heart failure patients who can no longer sustain their own circulation, is currently in Phase II clinical trial at UCLA.

The HeartMate II is very quiet in operation and small in size – weighing 12 ounces and about the size of a D-cell battery. It is designed to fit into the patient’s chest and is more easily implantable than many older, larger devices that had to be implanted into the abdomen with tubes piercing the diaphragm to reach the patient’s heart. The device is also easier to explant at the time of transplantation.

The HeartMate II is an axial flow pump that provides continuous flow – rather than pulses – to help the heart maintain circulation. The single moving part is an impeller blade that drives blood flow from the patient’s left ventricle to the ascending aorta.

Early results with the device have been excellent; it has proven to be extremely effective and has had a very low complication rate. While long-term data is not yet available, research conducted during the pump’s design indicates that it will outperform most older pumps in terms of the durability of its mechanism.  

The HeartMate II is very quiet in operation and small in size – weighing 12 ounces and about the size of a D-cell battery. It is designed to fit into the patient’s chest and is more easily implantable than many older, larger devices that had to be implanted into the abdomen with tubes piercing the diaphragm to reach the patient’s heart. The device is also easier to explant at the time of transplantation.

The HeartMate II is an axial flow pump that provides continuous flow – rather than pulses – to help the heart maintain circulation. The single moving part is an impeller blade that drives blood flow from the patient’s left ventricle to the ascending aorta.

Early results with the device have been excellent; it has proven to be extremely effective and has had a very low complication rate. While long-term data is not yet available, research conducted during the pump’s design indicates that it will outperform most older pumps in terms of the durability of its mechanism.  

Candidates for the study

Any cardiomyopathy patient with New York Heart Association (NTHA) Stage III or IV heart failure who is refractory to medical management may be a candidate for transplantation or mechanical assistance as a destination therapy and can be referred for evaluation to participate in the HeartMate II clinical study. UCLA, as a full-spectrum treatment center, is able to offer all patients appropriate treatment options, whether or not they are candidates for any given trial or therapy.

Because the HeartMate II produces a steady, laminar (non-turbulent) flow as opposed to a pulsatile flow, it is most appropriate in treating patients whose heart failure has not yet reached an advanced stage. Early referral and early evaluation are essential to producing good outcomes with the HeartMate II LVAD for these patients. The device’s small size enables surgeons to use it in smaller patients (approximately 25 kg and up), including both small adults and larger, older children.

Patient referral

For a consultation or to have a patient evaluated for treatment, please contact one of the physicians participating in the study directly.

Mark Plunkett, M.D.
Mechanical assist device surgical director

(310) 206-8232

Jamie Moriguchi, M.D. 
Mechanical assist device medical director

(310) 794-1200

Mark Plunkett, M.D.
Mechanical assist device surgical director

(310) 206-8232

Jamie Moriguchi, M.D. 
Mechanical assist device medical director

(310) 794-1200





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