Article Abstract

Minimally invasive left ventricular assist device placement

Authors: Allen Cheng


Background: The use of left ventricular assist device (LVAD) as bridge-to-transplant and destination therapy has increased significantly in the recent years along with the rapidly increasing heart failure patient population worldwide. It is crucial to be familiar with the standard surgical technique of LVAD implantation, but also to further advance the technique to optimize patient outcomes. Numerous studies have shown minimally invasive cardiac surgeries, including cardiac valves procedures can improve patient outcomes with decrease post-operative bleeding, reduced blood transfusion requirement, shorter hospital stay, faster recovery rate and lower hospital cost. With the advancement of mechanical circulatory support, the smaller and current generation of centrifugal continuous-flow LVADs has made minimally invasive LVAD implantation feasible. In this review, we described our surgical technique of minimally invasive LVAD placement.
Methods: In addition to the standard pre-LVAD implantation evaluation, multiple studies, including chest radiography, chest computed tomography and echocardiography are further examined for patient selection and planning of the operation. Instead of a full standard sternotomy, a lateral mini-thoracotomy and hemi-sternotomy or second intercostal space anterior mini-thoracotomy are utilized. Special techniques are also applied to allow easy access for future re-entry, e.g., heart transplantation and to improve post-operative outcomes. Off-pump approach is our prefer approach for the minimally invasive procedure.
Results: With minimally invasive approach, avoiding a full sternotomy, can reduce surgical trauma and post-operative bleeding, and can make subsequent LVAD explantation and heart transplantation less technically challenging and will allow patients to have a faster post-operative recovery rate. With the intact pericardium, the right ventricle can be protected from acute unrestricted dilation and further right heart failure after LVAD placement. The use of off-pump approach allows the avoidance of cardiopulmonary bypass and will decrease the incidence of post-operative vasoplegia and coagulopathy.
Conclusions: With the current generation of LVADs, minimally invasive surgical approach is very feasible and may improve patient outcomes. Further large prospective randomized studies will help to further demonstrate the potential advantages and disadvantage of minimally invasive LVAD placement. The upcoming generations of LVADs and minimally invasive instrumentations are currently being evaluate and will further advance the success of LVAD therapy.