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Ventricular Assist Device (VAD)

Ventricular assist devices (VADs) are mechanisms that help the heart pump enough blood, enabling patients with end-stage heart failure to live longer and feel better. Unlike artificial hearts, VADs are meant to powerfully assist the heart rather than replace it. A VAD can be implanted as a “destination therapy,” meaning the device is permanently in patients who are ineligible to receive a transplant. A VAD can also be implanted as a “bridge-to-transplant therapy,” in patients who are awaiting transplant or whose hearts are likely to regain their own strength with treatment.

There are a variety of VADs, also called mechanical heart pumps or circulatory assist devices. Some of them duplicate the pulsing pump of the ventricles—the heart’s lower chambers—and others pump blood continuously through a rotary tube. Patients with continuous blood flow VADs may not have a normal pulse even though they are receiving enough blood.

VADs consist of two tubes: one carries blood out of the heart and into a pump, and the other moves blood from the pump to the body’s major blood vessels. A power source connected to a control unit monitors the device’s functioning.

VADs can assist either the left ventricle (LVAD), the right ventricle (RVAD), or both (BIVAD). LVADs are the most common, helping supply oxygen-rich blood to the aorta, the body’s primary artery. RVADs help pump blood to the lungs. BIVADs may be used when the functioning of both ventricles is impaired.

For temporary support during or after surgery, a transcutaneous VAD may be used, wherein the pump and power source are stored outside the body and connected via abdominal tubes. Implantable VADs are a long-term or permanent solution wherein the internal pump is connected to the external power source via an abdominal cable.

Learn more about this device and VAD surgery by reading our ventricular assist device FAQs.

Conditions Treated

Why Temple?

The Temple Heart & Vascular Institute has extensive experience in both medical and surgical management with patients with advanced heart failure. Temple was the first institution in Philadelphia to implant an LVAD as an alternative to a heart transplant in 2003. At Temple, you will benefit from a multidisciplinary team including heart failure cardiologists, surgeons, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, social workers, palliative care specialists, dietitians, pharmacists, physical therapists, phycologists, and financial counselors.

The Temple Mechanical Circulatory Support Program is certified by the Joint Commission for LVAD, meeting rigorous standards to support better outcomes. This includes monitoring and reporting patient selection, 1 year survival, length of stay, and functional capacity for patients.

Meet the Temple Team

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Eman Hamad, MD, MPH
Medical Director, Mechanical Circulatory Support Program

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Yoshiya Toyoda, MD, PhD
Director, Mechanical Circulatory Support, Temple University Hospital


Tamara Boucher, PA-C
Manager, Mechanical Circulatory Support and Transplant Services 

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Patrice Scheiner, CRNP, CHFN
Mechanical Circulatory Support Coordinator

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