Innovative Options for Advanced Heart Failure

Penn is at the forefront of using and expanding the use of mechanical-assist devices for heart failure patients. Watch Dr. Eduardo Rame, director of the program at Penn, discuss the advances in this field of medicine.

Download Penn's heart failure guide

What is a Ventricular Assist Device (VAD)?

In the United States, there are far fewer hearts available for transplantation than patients living with end-stage heart failure. To offer options to these gravely ill patients, Penn Medicine has become a national leader in the development and use of cardiac-assist devices.

When heart failure is caused by a pumping weakness it can start in either the left or right ventricle (pumping chamber) of the heart. Ventricular assist devices (VADs) are mechanical pumps that help support the weakened ventricle.

Types of VADs

Penn is nationally recognized as a leader in the design and implementation of ventricular assist devices. Our team is pushing the boundary of what is possible for late-stage heart failure patients, and we are proud of our innovative use of VAD technology. In fact, we are the only center in the region to offer all available VAD devices to patients. This means we can match the right person with the right device. VADs as used as:

Why Our Program is Different

Penn has one of the top five most experienced programs in the nation and is the region’s leading advocate for the use of VADs for both patients in end-stage heart failure and those awaiting heart transplants.

Our experienced team includes nationally known experts in cardiac surgery, heart failure, transplant and heart-assist device technology. The team works closely together with surgeons, heart failure specialists, anesthesiologists and other specialists throughout the health system to provide the highest level of care for each and every patient.

We are proud of the many “firsts” established by the program; Penn was one of the first centers in the country to:

  • Implant the Thoratec HeartMate II left ventricular-assist device (LVAD) for destination (long-term) therapy.
  • Implant the HeartWare Ventricular-Assist System, the only full-output pump designed to be implanted next to the heart, avoiding the abdominal surgery generally required to implant other devices.
  • Receive certification for SynCardia CardioWest™ temporary Total Artificial Heart (TAH-t) implantation, the only FDA-approved temporary artificial heart for bridge to cardiac transplantation.

We work together to closely monitor patients through the Penn Heart & Vascular VAD Outpatient Clinic. This allow most patients to remain at home while they wait for a transplant or for their heart to heal. A team member is on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for emergency phone consultations or emergency outpatient clinic visits.

In This Section

Treatment Team

Meet the Ventricular Assist Device Program Team at Penn Heart and Vascular.

Treatments and Procedures

Learn about Penn's experience with ventricular assist devices and the options available for patients with advanced stages of heart failure.

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