A ventricular assist device (VAD) has been developed for clinical use at The Pennsylvania State University that can be inserted with standard surgical technique, is capable of completely supporting either the systemic or pulmonary circulation, and does not require anticoagulation. Since 1976, this device has been used in 29 patients following cardiac surgical procedures who were not able to be weaned from cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB) with conventional techniques. From 1976 through 1979, we used ventricular assist pumping in 14 patients. Four of these patients were weaned from the assist pump and 2 were discharged from the hospital, yielding a 14% survival rate. From 1980 to the present, 16 patients required use of the assist pump from which 9 patients were weaned and 7 patients were discharged yielding a 44% survival rate. During the 8 years of clinical experience with this device, a program designed to optimize results has evolved with respect to patient selection, insertion technique, and postoperative care that has resulted in significant improvement in patient survival.
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