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J Heart Lung Transplant. 2008 Feb;27(2):173-7. doi: 10.1016/j.healun.2007.11.567.

Pneumatic paracorporeal ventricular assist device in infants and children: initial Stanford experience.

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  • 1Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Stanford University Medical Center, Stanford, California 94305-5407, USA.



Mechanical circulatory support with the Berlin Heart EXCOR pediatric ventricular assist device (VAD) has been used successfully in Europe for children with cardiac failure. Eighty-seven devices have been placed in North America through February 2007. We describe our single-center experience in 8 children.


Eight children (ages 4 to 55 months), with median weight of 9.6 kg and body surface area of 0.48 m(2), received the Berlin Heart VAD as a bridge to transplantation. All patients were in cardiogenic shock requiring multiple inotropes. Primary diagnoses were idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy (n = 4), congenital heart disease (n = 3) and restrictive cardiomyopathy (n = 1). After device insertion, all patients were treated with an anti-coagulant (heparin or coumadin) and one or more platelet inhibitors (aspirin with clopidogrel or dipyridamole).


Five patients received support with a left ventricular assist device (LVAD) and 3 with a biventricular device (BiVAD). Duration of support ranged from 2 to 234 days (median 57 days). Five patients (63%) were successfully bridged to transplantation; of these, 4 were discharged home and 1 died from early graft failure. Five patients developed post-operative neurologic events. Of these 5 events, 4 could be explained by embolism or hemorrhage. Device exchange was performed in 4 patients in the intensive care unit.


In selected children, the Berlin Heart VAD can be used as a bridge to transplantation. In contrast to the published European experience, neurologic events occur frequently. Anti-coagulation and platelet inhibition strategies continue to evolve. Device exchange is technically feasible at the bedside and should be considered at the earliest visualization of thrombus formation.

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