Purpose of review
Ex-vivo perfusion has emerged in recent years as an alternative to cold static preservation of organs harvested for transplant. Normothermic ex-vivo perfusion, the subject of this review, maintains the donor heart in a near physiologic state, and allows the transplant team to monitor and control perfusion to the organ prior to implantation. A growing body of evidence has established the safety and viability of this technique, which may improve on current standards of donor management.
Following initial single-arm studies over a decade ago, ex-vivo perfusion has been studied in a prospective, randomized fashion in standard donor hearts (PROCEED II trial). The short and intermediate-term results demonstrated similar outcomes compared with cold storage with significantly shorter cold ischemic time. Since then, ex-vivo perfusion has been studied in extended-criteria donor hearts, first in observational studies, and currently in randomized, prospective fashion in the recently completed EXPAND-Heart trial, which is anticipated to be reported in 2020.
Normothermic ex-vivo perfusion has an established literature base and holds promise for changing current practices of heart preservation. Results of forthcoming pivotal studies will help determine its role in more widespread clinical adoption.