Ventricular assist device keeps the blood flowing
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The basic parts of a ventricular assist device, the mechanical pump known as a VAD, that are placed inside the body include a small tube that carries blood out of the heart into a pump, another tube that carries blood from the pump to the blood vessels, and a third tube that will be passed through the skin to connect the pump to the power source and controller.
The batteries and the controller are carried outside the body on straps or in a vest. The controller, a kind of computer, gives off warnings or alarms in case of low power or other problems and controls how the pump works.
The pump weighs about 2 pounds. The batteries and controller weigh about 10 pounds.
The VAD is implanted during open-heart surgery that takes about four to six hours; the patient is under anesthesia and connected to a ventilator.
An incision is made down the center of the chest; the sternum is separated and the rib cage is opened to allow surgeons to operate on the heart, which is stopped during the surgery. A heart-lung bypass machine keeps oxygenated blood flowing through the body until the VAD is implanted and working properly.
First Published March 12, 2012 12:00 am