LVAD or VAD/Impella - CHI Health, Omaha, Nebraska (NE)

What are the indications for the procedure

LVAD or VAD, is a type of mechanical heart that sustains a patient’s weakened heart by helping it pump oxygen-rich blood throughout the body. Patients who benefit from this procedure are those who require another major surgery, but need temporary support for the heart. LVAD also enables patients to recover more quickly from a massive heart attack and significant heart muscle damage.

The Impella®, a kind of LVAD, is the world’s smallest mechanical cardiovascular support system. It is a tiny pump inside a catheter, only 5 mm in diameter. It has an electric motor that can pump approximately 2.5 liters of blood per minute, sustaining the heart for up to 7 days.

How is it done?

Inserting the Impella is a minimally invasive procedure. This device is so small that it can be inserted into the patient’s heart through a small catheter. A tiny puncture is made in the artery of the leg and the Impella is passed through until it reaches the heart. This procedure takes about one to two hours and is done under local anesthesia in the Cardiovascular Catheterization Lab. X-rays are used to place the pump in the right location. Once in place, the device pulls blood from the left ventricle and pumps the blood into the patient’s ascending aorta for circulation throughout the body. After the procedure is completed, both the catheter and pump are removed and the patient is transferred to recovery unit.

How do I prepare for the procedure?

The preparation for LVAD is very similar to cardiac catheterization or angiogram procedure.

  • Do not eat or drink anything after midnight
  • Report to the Procedure Center an hour before the procedure.
  • The procedure is done under local anesthesia and mild sedation. 
  • After the procedure, the patient can get up and walk in about six to seven hours and usually is kept overnight, under observation.

What are the risks of the procedure?

  • Bleeding from the site of insertion
  • Blood vessel damage
  • Risk of infection, stroke, heart attack, blood clot formation.