In the United States, the FDA recently approved the Berlin Heart EXCOR ® VAD as a bridge to transplant in children. This device has a variety of blood pumps (which range from 10 to 60 ml in volume) and a wide range of cannulae (tubes that connect to the heart chambers). The device can provide left ventricular, right ventricular or biventricular assistance.

The Berlin Heart, which has been approved for use in Europe, was introduced in 1992 and has so far proved successful in children of all ages.1 At SLCH, during an initial 17-month period, surgeons implanted the Berlin Heart in seven children, ranging in size from 3 kg (6.6 pounds) to 35 kg (77 pounds). Although most of the children had cardiomyopathies, the device also was used in a child with complex congenital heart disease. All of the children received biventricular VADs, and six of seven went on to successful heart transplantation.

SLCH was part of a clinical trial for the Berlin Heart EXCOR ® VAD.

  1. Hetzer R, Stiller B. Technology insight: Use of ventricular assist devices in children. Nature Clinical Practice Cardiovascular Medicine. 2006;3:377-386.

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