Thrombolytic therapy for thrombosis of continuous flow ventricular assist devices.
BACKGROUND: Despite chronic systemic anticoagulation, advanced heart failure patients treated with a continuous-flow left ventricular assist device (LVAD) remain at risk for pump thrombosis. Pump thrombosis may initially be suspected in the setting of clinical and biochemical evidence for intravascular hemolysis, putatively related to shear stress on red blood cells propelled through a partially occluded pump. Limited data exist to guide management in these patients. METHODS AND RESULTS: We present a series of 8 LVAD patients who presented with intravascular hemolysis secondary to pump thrombosis who were treated with intraventricular thrombolytic therapy. In 3 patients, thrombolytic therapy led to complete and lasting resolution of hemolysis, suggesting successful dissolution of pump thrombus. In the remaining 5 patients, thrombolytic therapy ultimately failed to halt or reverse pump thrombosis and hemolysis: 1 patient required emergent pump exchange, 2 patients progressed to cardiogenic shock and died, 1 patient suffered a debilitating stroke after which care was withdrawn, and 1 patient underwent cardiac transplantation. CONCLUSIONS: In the setting of LVAD thrombosis, thrombolytic therapy is an alternate treatment strategy in a subset of patients. Candidacy for this alternate procedure must carefully weigh the risks of complications, including hemorrhage and thromboembolism.
Schlendorf, K; Patel, CB; Gehrig, T; Kiefer, TL; Felker, GM; Hernandez, AF; Blue, LJ; Milano, CA; Rogers, JG
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