A ventricular assist device (VAD) is a mechanical pump that helps a weakened heart pump blood throughout the body. The VAD device does not replace the heart. It assists the patient's own heart to pump blood, decreasing the work of the left ventricle.
Image used with permission from CardiacAssist, Inc.
Traditionally, a VAD device is placed during surgery. The surgeon attaches the VAD to the apex of the left ventricle and to the aorta. When the left ventricle (the major pumping chamber of the heart) contracts (systole), blood flows into the VAD pump. When the heart relaxes (diastole), the left ventricle fills with blood, and the blood in the device is pumped into the aorta.
Cleveland Clinic has begun to use the TandemHeart® PTVA® System, a new centrifugal left ventricular assist device (VAD) manufactured by CardiacAssist, Inc. The TandemHeart® is inserted percutaneously and allows rapid implementation of circulatory support in the cardiac catheterization laboratory or operating room.
The TandemHeart® is being investigated as a treatment for select patients recovering after revascularization of acutely occluded coronary arteries. It can be used to temporarily support patients in cardiogenic shock as a bridge to other circulatory support devices or to recovery. It may also be used to support patients after surgery when weaning from cardiopulmonary bypass has failed.
A catheter is threaded from the femoral vein in the patient’s groin into the left atrium (via an interatrial puncture) and oxygenated blood is withdrawn and returned to the femoral artery. The blood does not travel through left ventricle, the major pumping chamber of the heart. Therefore, the left ventricle does not have to work as hard.
Cleveland Clinic is one of the few institutions worldwide who have access to many mechanical ventricular assist device options. Learn more about VAD devices
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If you want more information about ventricular assist devices or treatment of heart failure, contact us or call the Miller Family Heart & Vascular Institute Resource & Information Nurse at 216.445.9288 or toll-free at 866.289.6911. We would be happy to help you.