ST. LOUIS – Washington University cardiac surgeons at Barnes-Jewish Hospital expanded the use of ventricular assist devices (VADs) in 2010 by implanting 55 devices, an increase of three from 2009, and an increase from only 12 as recently as 2006.
In addition, Barnes-Jewish implanted 29 hearts via transplant.
The reason for the growth is twofold according to physicians. One, there are a set amount of donor hearts available to the St. Louis region and two, VAD technology has become much more reliable.
VADs are devices designed to assist patients suffering from end stage heart failure. With the heart too weak to pump on its own and donor hearts in short supply, VADs help the failing heart beat.
They are surgically attached to the heart’s left ventricle. The device then sits over the abdomen inside the skin and assists with heart function either until a patient gets a new heart via transplant or is approved for long-term use of the device, or destination therapy.
“For the first time, we have another viable option for the treatment of severe heart failure,” says former surgical director of heart transplant at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine. “With these devices we can provide years of meaningful therapy to allow patients to return to their lives without the use of immunosuppression.”
To illustrate the larger use of the devices at Barnes-Jewish, 12 VADs were implanted in 2006, 16 in 2007, 31 in 2008 and 52 in 2009.
“We can intervene in these patients, put in a device and support them until they can get transplanted or live with the device at home long-term through destination therapy,” says Gregory Ewald, MD
, medical director of heart transplant.
For more information about VADs at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine, call 866-TOP-DOCS.