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J Heart Lung Transplant. 2006 Apr;25(4):391-4. Epub 2006 Feb 3.

Peripheral vascular reactivity in patients with pulsatile vs axial flow left ventricular assist device support.

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Department of Adult Cardiology/Heart Failure, Texas Heart Institute, St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.



Left ventricular assist devices (LVADs) are either pulsatile or axial flow devices. The latter can be operated at a low-speed setting to allow pulsatility or at a high-speed setting to create continuous flow. The purpose of this study was to compare the effect of continuous flow and pulsatile flow on peripheral vascular reactivity.


Twenty consecutive patients were divided into two groups based on the type of LVAD they received. Ten patients had a pulsatile flow LVAD, and 10 had an axial flow LVAD. For the purpose of the study protocol, the axial flow devices were operated at a high speed to ensure continuous flow. The patients' peripheral artery vasoreactivity was assessed with an ultrasound vascular transducer that measured flow-mediated dilation (FMD).


The FMD of the patients supported with pulsatile flow (15.6 +/- 5%) was higher than the FMD of the patients supported with temporary continuous flow (1.8 +/- 3%). The difference was statistically significant (p < 0.0001).


Pulsatile flow is associated with a better peripheral vascular reactivity than continuous flow. Patients supported by axial flow devices should be kept on the lowest speed setting to allow maximum pulsatility.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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