Options for Mechanical Circulatory Support

Ventricular assist devices offer new hope for kids with failing hearts

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Cardiac Connection

Patients with end-stage heart disease have many treatment options at the Cardiac Center at CHOP — including a variety of ventricular assist devices (VADs) that can serve as a bridge to transplant. “We have the ability to support almost every circulation,” says program director Joseph Rossano, MD, “from kids who have structurally normal hearts to children who have a single ventricle.”

VADs available at CHOP include:

  • The SynCardia Total Artificial Heart, which replaces both heart ventricles. CHOP’s team was the first to use it successfully in a patient with a failing Fontan circulation.
  • The HeartMate II, a battery-powered left ventricular assist device that can be worn in a bag, belt or vest; in some cases, patients with a HeartMate II may be able to wait for their transplant at home rather than in the Hospital.
  • The Berlin Heart, which is specifically designed for use in infants and young children.
  • The TandemHeart, which can be implanted and removed in the catheterization lab to provide support for patients during a post-transplant rejection episode or another short-term illness.

“We’re one of just a handful of hospitals in the country to have multiple different devices to help the different complex circulations that we encounter in pediatric heart failure,” says Rossano. “Patients come from around the country for these therapies. We can help them in ways that weren’t possible as recently as five years ago.”