Types of Ventricular Assist Devices

University of Utah Health's Cardiac Mechanical Support Program uses the most advanced and reliable ventricular assist devices (VADs) available for patients today. In addition, our physicians are pioneering the use of several new devices by conducting clinical trials research in an effort to provide better care and outcomes for our patients. Read more about the VAD devices used by our program:

Heartmate II

The HeartMate II is an intermediate-to-chronic left ventricular assist device. Designed to dramatically improve survival and quality of life, the HeartMate II was developed with the goal of providing up to 10 years of circulatory support for a broad range of advanced heart failure patients. Its small size and quiet operation make the HeartMate II suitable for a wider range of patients, including women and those of smaller stature.

This device is FDA approved for Bridge to Transplant and Destination Therapy.


Held in the hand, the Jarvik 2000 Heart System is a pump is about the size of a C battery. Within its titanium shell sits a direct-current motor and a single moving part: a small, spinning titanium impeller that pumps blood from the heart at up to 7 liters per minute. It can be implanted through an incision in the breastbone (sternotomy) or through a less invasive incision along the rib cage (thoracotomy). The Jarvik 2000 augments the weakened heart's blood output to help restore a normal blood flow throughout the body.

Patients with this device can be discharged from the hospital while they wait for a suitable donor heart. This device is currently undergoing trails for bridge to transplant.

HeartWare VAS

The HeartWare, or HVAD pump, is a miniaturized, centrifugal pump capable of delivering up to 10 liters/minute of blood flow from the heart to the rest of the body. Like all other VADs, the HeartWare VAS has a small driveline exiting the abdomen that delivers power to the pump via a controller and two batteries. The impeller inside the pump is suspended using a combination of passive magnets and hydrodynamic thrust bearings offering essentially a “wear-less” system. The HeartWare VAS is in clinical trials for both bridge to transplantation and destination therapy.

Thoratec PVAD & IVAD

This device is ideal for patients requiring extended left, right, or biventricular support. This VAD is pneumatic and thus requires the patient's driveline to be connected to a special air compressor at all times.

The PVAD has a seamless pumping chamber enclosed in a rigid polysulfone case all located on the outside of a patient's body. ThoratecThoratecIt has been used for over 20 years and allows patients of smaller sizes the opportunity for biventricular support and the ability to be discharged home while they wait for a donor heart. The Thoratec IVAD is an implantable version of the Thoratec PVAD and works in the same manner, however unlike the PVAD, the IVAD pump(s) reside in the patient’s chest cavity.


The CentriMag (also known as Levitronix) is a temporary external VAD that can support the right or left heart or both. Designed for clinical use for up to six hours, the CentriMag can be used as a short-term solution for acute heart failure while longer-term options are considered and is currently being studied for post-cardiotomy recovery in patients unable to be weaned from cardiopulmonary bypass. The CentriMag is currently being studied in patients who need VAD support for up to 30 days.

The CentriMag is a continuous-flow, centrifugal-type rotary blood pump that is placed outside the body (extracorporeally). The continuous flow design means that the patient may not have a pulse. The pump is magnetically levitated, and the rotor spins at 3000-4000 RPMs.

Impella 2.5

The Impella 2.5 is a minimally invasive, catheter-based cardiac assist device designed to partially unload the left ventricle thus reducing the heart's workload and oxygen consumption. The Impella 2.5 can be inserted into the left ventricle in a cath lab through the femoral artery, into the ascending aorta, across the aortic valve, and into the left ventricle. The tip of the catheter contains a "pigtail" that crosses the patient's heart valve and rests in the left ventricle, generating flows up to 2.5 L/min.

Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO)

Although not classified as a VAD, Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) offers an alternative form of mechanical circulatory support therapy for patients with severe acute respiratory and/or cardiac failure who have a high mortality risk despite optimal conventional forms of treatment. Indications for ECMO include primary or secondary respiratory failure and cardiogenic shock. ECMO is a technically complex procedure that allows us to fully support the patient's respiratory and/or cardiac function at the bedside to allow for recovery and treatment of underlying etiology or as a bridge to a more durable device.