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Heart & Vascular Institute

Mechanical Circulatory Support Program

physician examines patient

The Mechanical Circulatory Support Program at the Temple Heart & Vascular Institute specializes in using the most sophisticated implantable devices available to treat severe disorders of the heart and circulatory system. Placement of mechanical circulatory support (MCS) requires a multidisciplinary team with the knowledge to support patients with advanced conditions.

Specialists at Temple Health use minimally invasive approaches when possible, evaluating our patients carefully to design a unique treatment plan and offer the most benefit from this life-extending technology.

Reasons for mechanical circulatory support include:

  • Bridge-to-transplant — For those who are on the waiting list for a new heart, temporary mechanical circulatory support offers a bridge-to-transplant to take over the work of your heart while you wait for a match.
  • Destination therapy — Those who are unable or not yet ready for heart transplant may benefit from temporary to permanent mechanical circulatory support if medical management is no longer effective.

Temple cardiovascular specialists have extensive expertise in the following mechanical circulatory support procedures:

Improving and Extending Life for More Patients

Temple’s expanded heart transplant criteria allows us to consider patients with some of the most complex advanced heart failure circumstances. That’s largely due to our ability to carefully evaluate each heart transplant recipient, develop an individualized treatment plan, and provide knowledgeable and compassionate support throughout the heart transplant journey.

When transplantation is not possible, we offer the most advanced options available. Our expertise in providing bridge-to-transplant has helped improve and extend life for patients on the waiting list for a heart. As a result, our program has a 85% one-year survival rate following heart transplant.

Our experience in placing mechanical circulatory assist devices goes back almost 20 years. The Temple Heart & Vascular Institute was the first institution in Philadelphia to implant an LVAD as destination therapy in 2003. Because Temple cardiovascular surgeons also perform heart transplants, they are highly qualified to evaluate the full range of surgical and device options for every patient. Learn more about our Heart Transplant Program.

Benefits of Mechanical Circulatory Support

Mechanical circulatory support does the work of your heart and circulatory system to improve blood flow throughout your entire body. In some cases, it helps you feel better so you can participate in cardiac rehab to get as healthy as possible before your procedure.

It may improve your organ function, including lung and kidney function, which will provide you with a better overall quality of life. Mechanical circulatory support may also extend the life of patients who are no longer responding to medical therapy.

At Temple, we offer:

Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO)

ECMO is often used in patients who need a multi-organ heart-lung transplant. The ECMO machine replaces the breathing function of the heart and lungs to provide a bridge-to-transplant while you wait for a new heart or lung. It can help very ill patients remain stable until they receive a lung or heart-and-lung transplant. Learn what to expect with ECMO.

Ventricular assist device (VAD/LVAD)

When your heart can no longer pump on its own, your Temple doctor may recommend that you receive a ventricular assist device. A VAD has a component that is placed in your chest, and an external system that powers the device. Together, they take over the work of your heart. Studies show some people have lived up to 10 years with the same VAD. Get answers to commonly asked questions about VAD surgery.

Total artificial heart

If your heart is damaged beyond repair, you may be eligible for a total artificial heart. This device completely replaces your damaged heart. With restored blood flow, you may feel better and have improved quality of life. Having an artificial heart can also help improve outcomes after heart transplant, as blood flow to your organs helps your body work more efficiently. Read about the total artificial heart procedure.


As with any procedure, there are risks associated with mechanical circulatory support. These include complications such as bleeding, blood clots, infection and stroke.

Prior to any mechanical circulatory support procedure, you’ll work with the Temple Advanced Heart Failure Program team to determine the best approach, decide which device fits your needs, and talk about the risks and benefits. Together, we’ll decide the best approach for you.

Ready for an Appointment?

Find a doctor near you, request an appointment, or call 800-TEMPLE-MED (800-836-7536) today.

Page medically reviewed by:
Eman A. Hamad, MD
October 15, 2021