Extracorporeal life support (ECLS) is indicated following left ventricular assist device (LVAD) implant for right heart failure or pulmonary dysfunction. From December 1991 to December 1996, 100 patients were supported with the implantable HeartMate LVAD. Of these, 12 patients were supported with ECLS post LVAD implant. Pre-operatively, 10 patients (83%) were on an intra-aortic balloon pump, 9 patients (75%) were intubated, and 8 patients (67%) required ECLS bridge to LVAD implant. Six patients (50%) were men, and patient age ranged from 28 to 63 years (mean 46 ± 10 years). Duration of ECLS averaged 3 ± 2 days (range, 1–9 days). Eight patients (67%) required a right ventricular assist device (RVAD) with an ECLS circuit, three patients (25%) required peripheral veno-venous ECLS, and one patient peripheral veno-arterial ECLS. Forty-five percent supported with ECLS post LVAD survived to transplant compared with the 81% supported with LVAD only. Early in this experience, three patients had RVAD support only and all three patients died. RVAD support (with or without ECLS) was 11% overall and declined from 14% in the first 50 patients to 8% in the second 50. ECLS post LVAD is relatively uncommon and its use is associated with reduced survival, but helps salvage these critically ill patients.
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