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UPMC begins study of heart support device as a bridge to transplantation

PITTSBURGH, May 21 Doctors at UPMC have begun a study using an investigational cardiac device, the VentrAssist Left Ventricular Assist System (LVAD) to see whether it can be used safely and effectively in patients with end-stage heart failure.

The study hopes to enroll 30 patients overall for the multi-center feasibility trial throughout nine centers in the United States. Five patients at UPMC have received the device so far, and one has successfully received a heart transplant after waiting for nearly three months on the pump, two of which were spent at home on the device.

"The VentrAssist LVAD presents us with a third-generation mechanical solution for end-stage congestive heart failure that approaches the goal of minimal interference with a patient's life. In a subsequent study with this pump, we will focus on support for transplant candidates as well as permanent use for those who do not qualify for heart transplantation, hopefully demonstrating its advantages over previous technology," said Robert Kormos, M.D., co-director of heart transplantation, director of the artificial heart program, medical director of the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine and professor of surgery, division of cardiothoracic surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

The VentrAssist LVAD is a mechanical blood pump that is implanted in the body to assist the heart to pump blood around the body for people with end-stage heart failure. It is still an experimental investigational device that has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration only for the purposes of the study. The blood pump is made of titanium and weighs just over half a pound, compared to the 5 pounds of older pumps. The implanted blood pump is connected to the heart and the aorta by two tubes called cannulae. Blood is drawn directly from the left ventricle and returned to the aorta. The VentrAssist LVAD works in tandem with the natural heart and an ext
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Contact: Maureen McGaffin
McGaffinME@upmc.edu
412-647-3555
University of Pittsburgh Medical Center
21-May-2007


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