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ASAIO J. 2000 Nov-Dec;46(6):S28-36.

Infectious complications associated with ventricular assist systems.

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Cullen Cardiovascular Research Laboratories, Texas Heart Institute at St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital, Houston 77225-0345, USA.


Infectious complications during support with a ventricular assist system (VAS) can cause severe morbidity and mortality, affecting nearly one-half of all VAS recipients. Because of the lack of a uniform definition of infection, the incidence of this complication is hard to determine accurately. It is approximately 50% for patients being supported by an implantable VAS as a bridge to heart transplantation and 28% for patients supported by an external, short-term VAS. Infections can be classified according to the involvement or noninvolvement of the implanted device and according to the severity of the infection. Severe infections involving the implanted device may preclude heart transplantation for some patients, but numerous patients with milder infections have undergone successful transplantation. Numerous factors predispose VAS patients to infection. Postoperative bleeding necessitating re-operation is an important contributing factor. Endotracheal tubes, intravascular catheters, and other indwelling tubes necessary for the care of postsurgical patients are also common routes of contamination. Control of infection may be improved with new VAS designs, antibiotic impregnated drivelines, and innovative therapies such as antibiotic beads. The next generation of VASs should be inherently less susceptible to infection because of their smaller size, reduced thrombogenicity, and better flow characteristics. In addition to more effective antibiotics, improved VAS designs that incorporate transcutaneous energy transmission systems may reduce infectious complications and allow safe, long-term VAS support.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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