Heart Assist System Implantation
(Ventricular Assist Device; VAD)
by Amy Scholten, MPH
A heart assist system implantation is a procedure to install a mechanical heart pump. The heart pump is also called a ventricular assist device (VAD).
Reasons for Procedure
A VAD helps the heart pump blood. It is used for people with heart failure. Heart failure is when the heart is too weak to pump the blood the body needs.
A VAD may be used for those who:
Problems are rare, but all procedures have some risk. The doctor will go over some problems that could happen, such as:
Things that raise the risk of problems are:
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
The surgical team may meet with you to talk about:
The doctor will give general anesthesia. You will be asleep.
Description of the Procedure
An incision will be made down the length of the breastbone. The breastbone will then be opened. A machine will replace heart and lung function during the procedure. The VAD will be placed into a pocket inside the belly wall. Tubes will be sewn to the heart. Tubes may also be sewn to the aorta. This will depend on the type of device needed. The incision will be closed with stitches or staples. A bandage will be placed over the site.
How Long Will It Take?
About 4 to 8 hours
Will It Hurt?
Pain and swelling are common in the first few weeks. Medicines and home care help.
Average Hospital Stay
At the Hospital
During your stay, the hospital staff will take steps to lower your risk of infection, such as:
There are also steps you can take to lower your risk of infection, such as:
Recovery takes about a few weeks. Some activities will be limited during that time.
Call Your Doctor
Call your doctor if you have:
If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.
American Heart Association
US Food & Drug Administration
Heart and Stroke Foundation
Left ventricular assist devices (mechanical circulatory support MCS). Cleveland Clinic website. Available at: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments/17192-left-ventricular-assist-devices-mechanical-circulatory-support-mcs. Accessed September 2, 2021.
Mechanical circulatory support for heart failure. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/management/mechanical-circulatory-support-for-heart-failure. Accessed September 2, 2021.
Shaffer A, Cogswell R, el al. Future developments in left ventricular assist device therapy. J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2021;162(2):605-611.
Last reviewed July 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Nicole Meregian, PA
Last Updated: 9/2/2021