Management of Anticoagulation with Impella® Percutaneous Ventricular Assist Devices and Review of New Literature

  • Luma Succar
  • Elisabeth M. Sulaica
  • Kevin R. Donahue
  • Matthew A. WanatEmail author


Cardiogenic shock is a life-threatening condition that may occur secondary to a variety of cardiac conditions, and may require temporary support with percutaneous ventricular devices like the Impella®. Anticoagulation in patients with Impella® devices can often be complicated due to unpredictable purge flow rates, pre-existing coagulopathy, or heparin allergies. The purpose of this article is to discuss the various options for anticoagulation in the setting of Impella®. The article will also describe recent updates (2014–current) in literature surrounding anticoagulation therapy for Impella® devices. At total of 228 articles were initially obtained through the PubMed search, with inclusion of 6 articles. A total of 51 patients had data in the six studies that were included in the review. Heparin for anticoagulation in the purge solution, at two different dextrose concentrations (5% and 20%), was associated with similar therapeutic activated partial thromboplastin time rates, thrombotic and bleeding events. One case series described the use of argatroban in the purge solution for anticoagulation in two patients with suspected heparin-induced thrombocytopenia, without bleeding or thrombotic complications. Pump thrombosis was not reported in any of the six studies. Anticoagulation in the setting of mechanical circulatory support devices is a challenging aspect of critical care. Institutions should have set protocols that clearly define the options for anticoagulation. Future studies that look at longer durations of support and possible operation of the Impella® device with a heparin-free purge solution are needed.


Anticoagulation Ventricular assist device Heparin Thrombosis Bleeding 



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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PharmacyHouston Methodist HospitalHoustonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Pharmacy Practice and Translational ResearchUniversity of Houston College of PharmacyHoustonUSA

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