Clinicians at Heidelberg University Hospital in Germany have announced the first implantation of the latest DeBakey LVAD (left ventricular assist device), the HeartAssist 5. The world’s smallest machine of its type, the HeartAssist 5 now has approval in the US for pediatric patients and in Europe for both adults and kids. Weighing only 92 grams (3.2 ounces), the unit is made out of titanium and plastic, and provides direct measurement of cardiac output without having to estimate, as in competing devices.
“Following the 3.5 hour surgery, the patient is doing fine,” reports Professor Karck [Dr. Matthias Karck, Director of the Department of Cardiac Surgery at Heidelberg University Hospital]. The 50-year-old woman suffered from heart failure that could not be effectively treated with medication. Since a heart transplant was not an option due to medical reasons, the implanted heart pump will now assist her heart permanently.
The DeBakey VAD was first developed in the 1990s in cooperation with NASA by Professor Michael DeBakey, the renowned American cardiac surgeon at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, who died in 2008 at the age of 99. The modern version of the device, the HeartAssist 5, is manufactured by US company MicroMed Cardiovascular. It is considered to be a fifth generation VAD because it can be implanted adjacent to the heart and has an exclusive flow probe that provides direct, accurate measurement of blood flow from the left ventricle to the aorta. The new miniature device is light, easy-to-handle and can be monitored and controlled externally.