Year : 2016  |  Volume : 19  |  Issue : 5  |  Page : 19--20

Perioperative management of left ventricular assist devices

OP Sanjay 
 Department of Cardiothoracic Anaesthesia and Intensive Care, Freeman Hospital, Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK

Correspondence Address:
O P Sanjay
Department of Cardiothoracic Anaesthesia and Intensive Care, Freeman Hospital, Newcastle Upon Tyne


The use of mechanical circulatory support for patients with severe heart failure is on the rist. The poeoperative, intraoperative and postoperative challenges the anaesthesiologists skills. These are discussed in this review.

How to cite this article:
Sanjay O P. Perioperative management of left ventricular assist devices.Ann Card Anaesth 2016;19:19-20

How to cite this URL:
Sanjay O P. Perioperative management of left ventricular assist devices. Ann Card Anaesth [serial online] 2016 [cited 2020 Oct 24 ];19:19-20
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Full Text


Left ventricular assist devices (LVADs) are devices for mechanical circulatory support for patients with severe heart failure. The anesthetic management of these cases can be broadly divided into pre-, intra-, and post-operative management.

 Preoperative Considerations

A review of patient history and disease progression is essential. Optimization of therapy is key to a successful outcome. Assessment of fluid status and assessment of device compliance are important. A review of blood investigations, echocardiogram, pulmonary function testing, electrocardiogram/chest X-ray, and right heart catheter are mandatory. Appropriate fluid balance is important and if found in excess modifying diuretic therapy/fluid extraction by venovenous hemodialysis is mandatory. If extremely unstable usage of inotropes/intra-aortic balloon pump should be considered.

 Intraoperative Considerations

Consider full invasive monitoring. Use of a pulmonary artery catheter (PAC) is important. These patients invariably have an automated implantable circulatory device (AICD)/pacemaker in situ. The defibrillator if present needs to be turned off before surgery. Use of external defibrillator pads is prudent. Assessment of clotting profile by means of a baseline thromboelastogram (TEG) is useful. Consider using cerebral oximetry as a pulse oximeter may not function well postbypass when the LVAD is operational. Limiting blood loss, usage of TEG to guide product replacement, use of cell salvage, and tranexamic acid are recommended. Transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) is vital to obtain a good outcome. A comprehensive TEE study is routinely performed preoperatively to evaluate patients for LVAD insertion. Important factors are listed in the underlying tables.

 Precardiopulmonary Bypass

Check for patent foramen ovale, atrial septal defect, and ventricular septal defectDetect and quantify aortic regurgitation/stenosisQuantify mitral stenosis/regurgitationQuantify tricuspid regurgitationAssess right ventricular functionExamine the cardiac chambers for the presence of thrombusCheck for aortic atheroma.

 Management of Cardiopulmonary Bypass and Postcardiopulmonary Bypass

Ensure adequate de-airingEvaluate inlet cannula position and blood flow velocity by continuous wave DopplerRecheck for intra-cardiac shuntsConfirm proper LVAD function by evaluating left ventricular decompression, presence of the outlet cannula in the aorta with appropriate flow, and a centered ventricular septum.

Inotropic support should be tailored to the TEE and PAC findings. Use of a combination of inotropes, inodilators, vasoconstrictors, and nitric oxide may be needed.

 Postoperative Considerations

Aim for early extubation and weaning of inotropes and vasoconstrictor therapy. Maintain low right heart pressures with the aid of meticulous fluid and diuretic therapy. Postoperatively, physiotherapy and institution of anticoagulation for the device are crucial. A watchful eye for postoperative problems such as strokes, device thrombosis, infection, right ventricular failure, and timely intervention can ensure a possibility for a bridge to transplantation/destination therapy.

 Suggested Reading

McCarthy PM, Savage RM, Fraser CD, et al. Hemodynamic and physiologic changes during support with an implantable left ventricular assist device. J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg 1995:109;409-17.Holman WL, Bourge RC, Fan P, et al. Influence of left ventricular assist on valvular regurgitation. Circulation 1993;88:309-18.Santamore WP, Gray LA Jr. Left ventricular contributions to right ventricular systolic function during LVAD support. Ann Thorac Surg 1996;61:350-6.Schmid C, Radovancevic B. When should we consider right ventricular support? Thorac Cardiovasc Surg 2002;50:204-7.Scalia GM, McCarthy PM, Savage RM, et al. Clinical utility of echocardiography in the management of implantable ventricular assist devices. J Am Soc Echocardiogr 2000;13:754-63.Moon MR, DeAnda A, Castro LJ, et al. Effects of mechanical left ventricular support on right ventricular diastolic function. J Heart Lung Transplant 1997;16:398-407.Ferns J, Dowling R, Bhat G. Evaluation of a patient with left ventricular assist device dysfunction. ASAIO J 2001;47:696-8.Dembitsky WP, Tector AJ, Park S, Moskowitz AJ, et al. Left ventricular assist device performance with long-term circulatory support: Lessons from the REMATCH trial. Ann Thorac Surg 2004;78:2123-9.