Mechanical Ventricular Support Devices

Doctors at the Heart & Vascular Institute were the first in the United States to implant a right-sided Impella RP heart pump when, for an emergency procedure in 2012, the Food & Drug Administration granted a special exemption while the federal agency was still evaluating the device. 

Heart pumps can save lives of patients with failing hearts or otherwise maintain blood flow during Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (PCI) procedures. In this special exemption case, the patient’s condition deteriorated rapidly after he suffered a heart attack involving closure of the right coronary artery. Even though the artery was opened with emergency angioplasty, the right ventricle -- which is supplied by the right coronary artery -- was severely impaired so that blood could not be pumped to the lungs and to the left ventricle. (The left ventricle pumps the blood to the rest of the body.) Our doctors used the investigational right-sided pumping device (Impella) to restore normal blood-flow balance in the patient. He survived and leads an excellent quality of life to this day.

Now approved by the FDA, these miniature heart pumps can be used during right-sided heart failure when blood backs up because it’s not pumped out to the lungs. Our doctors can insert the Impella RP through a catheter into the femoral vein and onto to the right atrium before finally reaching the pulmonary artery. The pump expels blood from the right ventricle, relieving stress on the right side of the heart.

The Heart & Vascular Difference: The institute, at Hartford Hospital, is among the few hospitals in the region with an artificial heart-lung machine known as ECMO (Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation) that oxygenates blood while serving as a partial heart-lung bypass for patients with severe, but reversible respiratory failure or other serious cardiac disease. It’s a collaboration between this department and the institute’s Advanced Heart Failure Cardiology Section at Hartford Hospital.

An ECMO device saves a life:

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