Currently, intermediate-sized children and adolescents may be candidates for VADs used in adults, depending on their size and weight. At St. Louis Children’s Hospital (SLCH), Washington University pediatric cardiothoracic surgeons use a type of VAD that provides biventricular assistance – help for both the right and left ventricles (the lower chambers of the heart) – which many patients need.

Research has shown that pediatric patients placed on this type of VAD have a survival rate comparable to that in adult patients and that the survival rate is independent of age or body size.1 In addition, the post-transplant survival rate for pediatric patients who use the VAD as a bridge to transplant is very high.1,2

Older children who undergo heart transplantation are end-stage heart failure patients who suffer from either cardiomyopathy – a primary problem with the heart muscle – or congenital heart disease that cannot be corrected through additional surgery. Surgeons at SLCH report that pediatric heart transplant patients generally heal better than adults do because they don’t have as many medical problems associated with their heart disease.

  1. Reinhartz O, Stiller B, Eilers R, Farrar D. Current clinical status of pulsatile pediatric circulatory support. ASAIO (American Society of Artificial Internal Organs) Journal. 2002;48(5):455-459.
  2. Reinhartz O, Keith FM, Elbanayosy A, McBride LR, Robbins RC, Copeland JG, Farrar DJ. Multicenter experience with the thoracic ventricular assist device in children and adolescents. The Journal of Heart and Lung Transplantation. 2001;20(4);439-438.

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