Innovative Cardiac Assist Devices 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

Cardiac Support Systems Bridge the Way to a Better Life

Cardiac-assist devices offer new hope to patients in heart failure when conventional medical and surgical therapies have been exhausted. There are many types – commonly referred to as ventricular assist devices (VADs) – to support the left and/or right ventricles (pumping chambers) of the heart.

VADs generally support patients with end-stage heart failure until they can have a heart transplant (known as bridge-to-transplant). In patients unable to have a heart transplant, VADs can be used to permanently support the failing heart (known as destination VADs). In addition, an emerging application for VADs is bridge-to-recovery for patients whose heart function improves as the device gives it the opportunity to rest and heal.

Matching Patients to the Right Device

Penn implant specialists are among the most experienced in the nation. They participate in multiple clinical trials of new state-of-the-art technology and exceed national averages for the number of procedures performed each year. Of all the patients who undergo heart transplant at Penn each year, 20 to 30 percent survive until surgery thanks to support by cardiac-assist devices. With this expertise, physicians are able to carefully assess which type of device is best for each patient.

Assist devices available at Penn include (but are not limited to):

  • Temporary Total Artificial Heart (TAH-t) (Investigational)
  • HeartMate II® LVAD
  • HeartWare® Ventricular Assist System (Investigational)
  • Thoratec CentriMag® Blood Pumping System

A Dedicated Team Offers Expert, Personalized Care

The Penn cardiac-assist device team includes nationally known experts in:

  • Cardiac surgery
  • Heart failure
  • Transplant
  • Heart-assist device technology

Together, they represent tremendous depth and breadth of experience in VAD implantation.

Patients with mechanical assist implants are closely monitored through the Penn Heart & Vascular VAD Outpatient Clinic. Most are able 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.

Experience patients can rely on

Patients can rely on excellent care at Penn because:

  • 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.

"Firsts" that open new options for patients

Penn was one of the first centers to:

  • Receive certification for SynCardia CardioWest™ temporary Total Artificial Heart (TAH-t) implantation, now considered to be the gold standard for bridge-to-transplant for patients awaiting a donor heart or at imminent risk of death
  • Implant the:
    • Thoratec HeartMate II left ventricular-assist device (LVAD) for destination (long-term) therapy.
    • 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.
    • Acorn CorCap™ Cardiac-Support Device, a mesh "heart jacket" that provides permanent support, prevents further enlargement of the muscle and enhances pumping function.
  • Evaluate the LionHeart™ LVAS, the first fully implantable device to undergo clinical trial.

The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania was the first hospital in the region to receive Advanced Certification in Ventricular-Assist Devices from The Joint Commission.

Physicians with credentials that translate to the best in quality care

Penn physicians are able to provide quality care because:

  • Penn implantation specialists are board-certified and fellowship-trained cardiothoracic surgery.
  • They provide consultation and training in the latest mechanical-assist technologies and techniques to other medical professionals around the world.
  • They are regularly acknowledged for their talent by both peers and consumers and have been recognized by Best Doctors in America, Philadelphiamagazine's "Top Docs" and America's Top Doctors.

Collaborative relationships that deliver real value to patients

The Penn mechanical-assist device team constantly forges new scientific partnerships to give patients early access to the latest in mechanical devices that support or replace heart functions.

Integrated and coordinated care that maximizes quality and convenience

The Penn Heart and Vascular Center's multidisciplinary team of providers is fully integrated under one roof to offer patients who need mechanical-assist devices with one point of access to every level of care they may need, including physicians, surgeons, dedicated nurse practitioners, physical therapists, dieticians, social workers and a financial coordinator.

Unique capabilities and expertise.

An inventory of the world's most sophisticated mechanical-assist devices means there’s an option available to fit virtually every patient that comes to Penn.

In This Section

Treatment Team

These providers at Penn Medicine specialize in the treatment and management of heart failure.

Quality and Outcomes

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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