Percutaneous Ventricular Assist Devices
Inserting a ventricular assist device (VAD) is often a life-saving measure for some of the most seriously ill heart failure patients. A ventricular assist device is a mechanical pump that helps the damaged heart - in particular, the left ventricle - to pump blood throughout the body. It promotes healing of the weakened heart by taking over the left ventricle's workload. A VAD is often useful to keep patients with end-stage heart disease alive until a transplant organ can be found.
For years, surgeons implanted a VAD through a large chest incision. Recent research has led to new ways of inserting a VAD percutaneously (through a small puncture in the arm or groin) in the catheterization lab, with the pump placed outside the body. Its tubes are placed in the arteries and veins and are connected from the left atrium to an artery, thus bypassing the left ventricle or from the left ventricle to the aorta. Placing these devices is considerably less invasive than surgical placement, and is very useful for temporary support. Ventricular assist devices that are placed percutaneously are not used for permanent support.
Such percutaneous VADs are effective in helping the heart heal by reducing its workload. They are sometimes used to ensure blood flow during percutaneous balloon angioplasty to clear blockages, and for other high risk cardiac intervention procedures.
MDCA cardiologists perform these procedures in a full catheterization laboratory using state-of-the-art heart catheter equipment. They are experienced in assessing the full spectrum of heart conditions and use cardiac catheterization as an important tool to assess a patient's overall heart health and to direct his or her treatment. To make an appointment with an MDCA cardiologist experienced with percutaneous VADs, please call 713-441-1100 (Pearland patients, please call 713-441-9909).