Date: 04 Mar 2009

Physiologic and Pathologic Changes in Patients with Continuous-Flow Ventricular Assist Devices

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Abstract

The clinical use of the newer continuous-flow pumps for mechanical circulatory support have resulted in superior outcomes including significantly reduced complication rates with improved durability over first generation pulsatile design pumps. However, as with all new technology, the newer LVADs have introduced a different set of management issues, as well as a unique risk profile into the mechanical circulatory support arena that were previously absent or unimportant with pulsatile LVADs. These include the effects of continuous flow on the systemic circulation and end-organ function, risk of thromboembolism, and pump thrombosis related to contact bearings in the blood path, the possible increased incidence of gastrointestinal bleeding, and ventricular arrhythmias, as well as alterations in the unloading characteristics of continuous-flow devices. This manuscript overviews the physiologic and pathologic effects that are associated with continuous-flow pumps and their unique management issues and complications.