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 - Northwestern Memorial Hospital - Chicago

VentrAssist: Third Generation Ventricular Assist Device Implanted at Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute - First in Illinois

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March 6, 2008

Chicago -

Edwin C. McGee, Jr., MD

Heart failure occurs when the heart is unable to pump enough blood to meet the needs of the body. It affects more than 5 million Americans, with more than 550,000 new cases diagnosed each year. Medications, special pacemakers and surgeries like coronary artery bypass can help most patients with heart failure. However, some patients have heart failure so bad that they can only be helped by heart transplantation or a mechanical pump or assist device that helps the failing heart. It is estimated that there are around 50,000 patients a year that fall into this category.

In 2008 the best therapy for these patients in terms of quality and length of life remains a heart transplant.  However, the number of heart transplants done each year has remained fairly stagnant at just over 2000. This leaves a larger number of patients who go unserved. Most of them die. Ventricular assist devices have been shown to improve these patients' length and quality of life but until recently they have been large and bulky and are associated with complications such as stroke, infection, bleeding, and device failure.

VentrAssist™ is a third generation left ventricular assist device (LVAD) that is manufactured by Ventracor, an Australian company. The pump is small (2.5 inches) and light weight (10 ounces). It has only one moving part and is designed to have no wearing parts and to not cause blood damage.




"We are very excited about VentrAssist™ and think that it will move this field forward," states Edwin C. McGee, Jr., MD. Dr. McGee, cardiac surgeon, is the surgical director, Heart Transplantation and Mechanical Assistance at the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute of Northwestern Memorial Hospital and assistant professor, Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine. "VentrAssist™ has been investigated as a bridge to transplant (buys a subject time while they wait to receive a heart transplant) or as destination therapy (permanent alternative in subjects that are not heart transplant candidates) in Australia and Europe, where it is commercially available as a bridge to transplant."

Dr. McGee is the principal investigator for the Evaluation of the VentrAssist™ Left Ventricular Assist Device as a Bridge to Cardiac Transplantation clinical research trial that is currently being offered to appropriate participants. The purpose of this research study is to evaluate VentrAssist™ Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD), as an experimental procedure for end stage heart failure patients who require circulatory assistance while waiting for a heart transplant. Northwestern is also part of a study that offers the VentrAssist™ pump to subjects who are not transplant candidates (IRB #STU00001672).

In December 2007 Dr. McGee and the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute's heart failure team implanted the first VentrAssist™ in Illinois. This subject received a heart transplant in mid-February. Also in mid-February, the second VentrAssist™ was implanted in a patient at the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute. This subject is currently awaiting a heart transplant.

Clinical Research Trial Contact Information:
For more information, interested participants and clinicians may contact Byron Yip, clinical research coordinator at 312-695-3270 or e-mail at byip@nmh.org.

Last UpdateFebruary 8, 2011