Aug. 29, 2008 — Surgeons at The Methodist Hospital in Houston this month became the first in the Southwestern United States to implant a third-generation heart pump, called a left ventricular assist device, or LVAD.
The new 3G heart pump, the first of its kind to be tested under the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), is expected to have extreme longevity, because it has no bearings or valves and contains just one moving part. Weighing less than a pound and measuring 2.5 inches in diameter, it is small and light enough to be safely implanted in both children and adults.
The VentrAssist LVAD is considered a “continuous flow” pump because it does not mimic the pulsing nature of the heart, as earlier models do. The FDA first approved pulsatile LVADs (pumps that pulse) in the early 1990s as a bridge to heart transplantation. However, Drs. Michael DeBakey, George Noon and Matthias Loebe pioneered nonpulsatile or continuous flow pumps when they implanted the first MicroMed LVAD ten years ago. Since then, physicians have also begun looking at these devices for permanent implantation, or destination therapy, for patients with heart failure.
Now, three patients at the Methodist DeBakey Heart & Vascular Center have received the VentrAssist LVAD. All are doing well and are recovering quickly.
“We are so proud to be the first center in the West to provide this advanced pump to our heart patients, thereby improving their quality of life and providing more options and alternatives for treatment of this devastating disease,” Loebe said.