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Kathy Wilets

Public Affairs,
Phone: 801-581-5717

Mar 08, 2011 3:47 PM

Kathy Wilets, University of Utah Health Care Public Affairs

University of Utah Surgeons Implant Miniature Artificial Heart Device

SALT LAKE CITY- Surgeons at University of Utah Hospital have performed the hospital’s first implant of a new generation left ventricular assist device (LVAD) using the HeartWare HVAD. The tiny, partial artificial heart device is being used as part of a national research study for patients with advanced heart failure who are not candidates for heart transplantation.

“We’re excited to be a part of this study,” says Craig Selzman, M.D., surgical director of the U of U’s Cardiac Mechanical Support and Heart Transplantation Program. “This device allows us to perform a potentially life-saving procedure for often desperately ill patients with end-stage heart disease. This newer LVAD allows blood to be taken from a heart that is unable to pump blood and provide blood flow to starving organs, ultimately allowing our patients to live longer and with a dramatically inproved quality of life.”

The HeartWare pump, in particular, is smaller than many of other heart pumps and has potentially improved blood handling characteristics that fuel our enthusiasm for this technology. University Hospital’s first patient to receive the LVAD had the surgery late last week and is recovering well.

The pump has only one moving part and is suspended by magnets and a hydrodynamic thrust bearing. This means the device may last longer and result in reduced risk of physical damage to blood cells as they pass through the pump.

University Hospital is one of 40 facilities in the country participating in the study of the HeartWare LVAD, and one of two institutions in Utah taking part in the investigation.

University Hospital’s heart transplant program is recognized as a leader both regionally and nationally. The consortium of heart failure physicians andsurgeons have created one of the most comprehensive heart failure programs in the country. In addition to the increasing number of LVADs and transplants being performed, U of U physicians are funded by the National Institute of Health to study basic mechanisms of heart failure and recovery as well as leading translational studies of innovative therapies for these sick heart failure patients.

In particular, with regards to mechanical circulatory support and artificial heart technology, the U of U is the most active center in the region. In addition to the HeartWare trial, U of U is the only center in the region involved in other investigational device therapy, including the following:

•    HeartMate II is now FDA-approved for both bridge to transplant as well as destination therapy. It is routinely used by the University Hospital heart transplant team.
•    University Hospital is one of the lead centers in the country for implantation of the miniaturized Jarvik 2000 LVAD. The U of U team has pioneered minimally invasive, off-pump approaches to the insertion of this device.
•    University Hospital is the second center in the country and third in the world to implant the Levacor centrifugal pump.
•    The U of U is a lead enroller in the Levitronix trial evaluating the use of the CentriMag device for short-tem mechanical support.

Heart failure is a very common condition, affecting about 5.7 million people in the United States each year and resulting in about 300,000 deaths annually. University Hospitals’ multidisciplinary heart transplant team is committed to the best and most comprehensive care available for these very ill patients.

University Health Care is the Intermountain West’s only academic health care system, combining excellence in patient care, the latest in medical research, and teaching to provide leading-edge medicine in a caring and personal setting. It is consistently ranked among US News & World Report’s Best Hospitals, and its academic partners at the University of Utah School of Medicine and Colleges of Nursing, Pharmacy, and Health are internationally regarded research and teaching institutions.