Purpose of review
The field of pediatric mechanical circulatory support has experienced exponential evolution in recent decades. With favorable complication profiles, implantable continuous-flow ventricular assist devices (VADs) have become a standard option in children, as has been seen in the adult counterpart. Nevertheless, there still exists room for further advances, not just for survival, but throughout the whole trajectory of treatment courses. With reviewing the current state of pediatric VAD support, including existing challenges, we aim to highlight the targets clinicians should focus on for further improvement of pediatric VAD support.
The field of pediatric VAD has been steadily growing, as evidenced by an increasing number of total VAD implants, particularly with continuous-flow VAD. Currently, HeartWare HVAD (Medtronic Inc., Mounds View, MN) is the most widely used continuous-flow VAD in children with excellent performance. However, only half of the children with HVAD are discharged home, which is drastically different from adult patients, suggesting that the pediatric field is still in the process of maturation. Additionally, outcomes of VAD support for complex congenital heart defect, particularly single ventricle physiology, remain suboptimal, despite an increasing number of such patients.
With the ongoing advancement, the field of pediatric VAD support is undergoing a rapid maturation process. This will eventually lead to further paradigm changes, including the use of VAD as permanent therapy.