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VHVI first in state to implant new ventricular assist device

Jan. 9, 2013, 2:49 PM

Team members working with the new ventricular assist system include, from left, Mark Wigger, M.D., Mary Keebler, M.D., Simon Maltais, M.D., Beverly Jones, N.P., Casey West, N.P., Kayela Floyd, R.N., and Alaina Knight, R.N. (photo by Susan Urmy)

On Monday, Vanderbilt Heart and Vascular Institute became the first heart program in Tennessee to implant the HeartWare ventricular assist system (VAS) as a bridge to transplantation.

The miniature circulatory support device gained FDA approval in November for this purpose.

Simon Maltais, M.D., Ph.D., surgical director for the Heart Transplantation and Ventricular Assist Device programs, implanted it in a 31-year-old Nashville patient with advanced heart failure.

The HeartWare VAS features a minaturized, full output device design that is implanted in the pericardial space of the heart.

“The advantage of pericardial placement should lead to decreased procedure time and shorter hospitalization time. The device can be implanted in adult patients with smaller body types and has greater versatility in patients with congenital heart disease,” Maltais said.

The new ventricular assist device is made by HeartWare International Inc.

The system is currently the leading ventricular assist device implanted in patients outside of the United States. The device had been implanted in more than 2,500 patients globally.

Maltais had experience with surgical implantation of the device as part of a clinical trial at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., before coming to Vanderbilt in 2011. The Ventricular Assist Device team worked with HeartWare International Inc. to train key providers and staff to prepare to offer this new device.

“We are excited to bring this cutting edge technology to Vanderbilt patients. The HeartWare pump has greater versatility due to its smaller size, allowing us to extend left ventricular assist device therapy to a broader patient population awaiting heart transplantation,” said Mary Keebler, M.D., medical director for the Vanderbilt Ventricular Assist Device program.

The program offers a full spectrum of devices for patients with advanced heart failure. The addition of HeartWare VAS provides another option that assists patients to live an ambulatory lifestyle while waiting for their heart transplant.

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