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Temple to Implant Total Artificial Heart

One of the world's most advanced medical devices for end-stage heart failure patients will soon be available at Temple University Hospital. Later this fall, Temple physicians will be certified to implant the SynCardia temporary Total Artificial Heart. Currently, only 32 adult hospitals in the United States are certified to implant the device. Initially, Temple expects to implant between five and 10 of the devices a year.

Originally used as a permanent replacement heart, the Total Artificial Heart is currently approved as a "bridge to transplant" for people with end-stage heart failure affecting both ventricles, known as biventricular failure.

Similar to a transplant, the Total Artificial Heart replaces both failing heart ventricles and the four heart valves, eliminating the symptoms and source of end-stage biventricular failure. The immediate, high volume of blood flow provided by the device helps vital organs recover faster and makes patients better transplant candidates.

"The Total Artificial Heart adds an important dimension to what we can offer to heart failure patients," says Rene Alvarez Jr., MD, Vice Chair of Cardiology and Medical Director of the Heart Failure/Cardiac Transplant Program at Temple. "Soon after implantation, it's common to see patients turn from sickly gray to a healthier pink as blood flow is restored to their bodies and their organs begin to recover."

The Total Artificial Heart consists of two biocompatible plastic ventricles with four valves. The device – which doesn’t require sensors, motors or electronics of any type inside the body — is powered with pulses of air and vacuum provided by an external device called a driver.

Temple patients who receive the Total Artificial Heart will be eligible to use the Freedom® portable driver, a 13.5-pound wearable power supply that allows patients to easily move around. Using Freedom, many patients can leave the hospital and resume normal activities at home while they wait for a matching donor heart. Previously, patients had to remain in the hospital because they were attached to a 418-pound driver the size of a washing machine.

"Patients who require the Total Artificial Heart are the sickest of the sick… those who have no other treatment options and cannot wait any longer for a donor heart," says Yoshiya Toyoda, MD, PhD, Vice Chief of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Surgical Director of Heart and Lung Transplantation, and Surgical Director of Mechanical Circulatory Support. "Both sides of their heart are failing to pump enough blood to sustain their body and their organs are beginning to shut down."

According to data published in the New England Journal of Medicine from the 10-year pivotal clinical study which led to FDA approval, 79 percent of patients who received the Total Artificial Heart were bridged to transplant. This is the highest bridge-to-transplant rate for any approved heart device in the world.

For more information or to schedule an appointment with a Temple physician, call 1-800-TEMPLE-MED (1-800-836-7536).


SynCardia Total Artificial Heart and the Freedom® wearable driver that gives patients much greater mobility. (Illustration courtesy: synchardia.com)

CAUTION: The Freedom® driver is an investigational device, limited  by United States law to investigational use.

Date Published: Friday, November 02, 2012

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