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Rotary blood pump shows promise for pediatric patients


Ventricular assist devices (VADs), blood pumps used in heart failure situations, now have the potential for use in additional patient groups. Scientists and clinicians gathered at the 11th Congress of the International Society of Rotary Blood Pumps in Germany last year to discuss past lessons learned and future directions for this technology.

Increasing experience, better understanding, and advances in VADs now suggest that its smaller size offers an advantage in permitting its use in women and smaller patients, including children with heart failure. These miniature devices, such as the MicroMed DeBakey Child VAD, have the potential to bring about similar results in children as they do currently in adults, sustaining heart function, until the heart can recover or until a heart transplant can be done. According to WebMD Health, as many as 50,000 people each year could benefit from a heart transplant, but only 2,000 to 2,500 hearts become available. As a result, tens of thousands of patients each year die while waiting for a heart transplant.

The development of VADs was derived from the first successful clinical use of the heart-lung machine. Researchers actively set out to discover other ways to support a failing heart to allow more time for recovery. The article relays how the efficacy and safety of VADs were demonstrated in numerous trials along the way. After 50 years of use, VADs are still considered to be in their infancy, but today, the technology has contributed to prolonging support for patients, and has helped to maintain healthy, functioning hearts.

"[This is] of significant value in improving the treatment of intractable heart failure," states Dr. Michael DeBakey, author of the editorial in the journal, Artificial Organs. Researchers are hopeful for further advancement in the technology but stress the need for commitment from leaders in the field in addition to "adequate reimbursement."

Sharon Agsalda | EurekAlert!
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