LVAD Implantation | Loyola Medicine

LVAD (Left Ventricular Assist Device) Implantation

Surgical Procedure to Improve Life Expectancy of Heart Failure Patients

LVAD (left ventricular assist device) implantation is one of the ways the highly skilled cardiologists and cardiovascular surgeons at Loyola Medicine extend the lives of patients with heart failure or advanced heart failure.

An LVAD is a small pump that is surgically implanted inside your chest to help your weakened heart provide mechanical circulation of blood to your body. Unlike a heart transplant, an LVAD does not replace your heart, but instead helps your weakened heart do its job. 

The LVAD will pull blood from the lower chamber of your heart (left ventricle) and push it to the aorta, which carries the blood from your heart to the rest of your body. The LVAD improves your blood circulation and may relieve symptoms and allow you to resume normal activity.

For many years, heart transplantation was the only treatment option for advanced heart failure. The LVAD provides an alternative treatment option for patients in two ways:

  • Bridge-to-transplant — Temporary implantation of the LVAD to extend your life if you are waiting for heart transplantation
     
  • Destination therapy — Permanent implantation of the LVAD to improve heart function if you are diagnosed with end-stage heart failure and are not eligible for heart transplantation

Loyola’s multidisciplinary team of doctors is expert at providing a comprehensive health evaluation to determine whether LVAD implantation is the right treatment option for you.

Why Choose Loyola for LVAD Implantation?

Loyola’s cardiology and heart surgery program is ranked 27th in the country by U.S. News & World Report

Loyola has earned The Joint Commission certification for use of LVAD as a destination therapy device, and is one of the few hospitals in the Chicago area and 90 hospitals in the U.S. with this distinction. Our team of heart failure physicians, cardiac surgeons, advanced practice nurses, LVAD coordinators and other professionals is proud of this distinction, which recognizes Loyola as an expert in the management of complex heart failure patients needing LVAD implantation.

In the long- and short-term, patients who undergo LVAD implantation at Loyola have significantly better outcomes than the national average, reducing the likelihood of complications such as infection, neurological dysfunction, device malfunction, bleeding and right heart failure. Loyola's highly skilled cardiovascular surgeons are leaders in their field, which benefits patients in every stage of care from diagnosis to treatment and recovery.

We are also proud to offer our patients a shared care model for LVAD needs. Under this model of treatment, Loyola works with your primary cardiologist in your local community to provide the expertise necessary to enable you to return to your normal routine and daily life. Working jointly with your local cardiologist following surgery enables you to have ongoing, follow-up care in your own community. 

What to Expect with LVAD Surgery

LVAD surgery is an open heart surgery performed by the highly skilled cardiac surgeons at Loyola. Our multidisciplinary team will assist you with extraordinary care from preoperative preparation to postoperative care. 
 
LVAD surgery is performed under general anesthesia in Loyola’s state-of-the-art hospital facility. During surgery, you will be placed on a ventilator to help you breathe. The work of your heart and lungs will be done by a heart-lung machine during surgery. 
 
Your surgeon will make an incision in your sternum (breastbone) to expose your heart and the LVAD will be implanted right next to your heart or in a space called a “pump pocket” created by your surgeon. The driveline, or cable from the pump, will exit your body through an incision in your abdomen, where it will connect to a computer controller, power pack and a reserve power pack that remain outside your body.

Once your LVAD is implanted, you will be removed from the heart-lung machine to restore blood flow through your heart and your new LVAD. Following surgery, you will remain in intensive care to ensure proper fluid replacement and that your LVAD implantation was successful. After you are well enough to leave care, you will be moved to a cardiac step-down unit where physical therapists, nutritionists and our LVAD team will help prepare you for discharge home or acute rehabilitation.

What Are the Risks of LVAD Surgery?

As with any open heart surgery, there are risks involved with LVAD implantation. The skilled surgeons at Loyola work together to mitigate your risk, but complications may include: