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Ann Thorac Surg. 2011 Mar;91(3):740-7; discussion 747-9. doi: 10.1016/j.athoracsur.2010.11.007.

Bleeding complications and blood product utilization with left ventricular assist device implantation.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, Division of Cardiac Surgery, The Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, Baltimore, Maryland 21287, USA.



Bleeding complications are a major source of morbidity and reoperation after left ventricular assist device (LVAD) implantation, yet remain poorly characterized in patients receiving LVADs. We assessed bleeding complications in an institutional cohort of LVAD patients.


We reviewed patients who received continuous-flow (CF) LVADs at our institution (October 2004 to May 2009). Intraoperative and postoperative transfusion requirements (packed red blood cells, fresh frozen plasma, and platelets), chest tube output, and reoperation for bleeding complications were assessed. Univariate and multivariable Cox proportional hazard analysis assessed the impact of intraoperative bleeding on mortality. A subset of our patient population underwent delayed sternal closure as opposed to primary closure and an analysis of reoperation for bleeding was undertaken stratifying patients by approach to closure.


Eighty-six CF LVADs were implanted over our study period. Patients had poor preoperative cardiac function and high preoperative risk indices. Patients receiving LVADs had high intraoperative (11.6 ± 7.5 units) and postoperative (15.6 [±12.6] units in the first week) blood product requirements, as well as significant chest tube output (5,880 [±4,480] milliliters in the first week). On multivariable analysis, intraoperative packed red blood cell transfusions were a significant predictor of mortality. Eleven (28%) patients undergoing primary sternal closure required reoperation for bleeding, while delayed sternal closure patients generally had resolution of bleeding prior to sternal closure. The incidence of gastrointestinal bleeding was 28% at one year.


On multivariable analysis, intraoperative packed red blood cell transfusions were a significant predictor of 30-day and one-year mortality, while chest tube output during the first postoperative 48 hours predicted 30-day but not one-year mortality.

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