Left ventricular assist devices (LVADs), popularized most famously by Dick Cheney, have become somewhat common in the past few years. They augment the cardiac output, and in many cases they have significantly extended the lifespans of heart failure patients.
Managing LVADs can be a challenge, with a particular emphasis placed on keeping the area where the power cord comes of the body pristinely clean. Typically, the cord is passed through the skin on the abdomen, but keeping that area clean may be difficult if it’s prone to getting wet or soiled. At the Osaka University Hospital in Japan, clinicians faced just such a problem.
A heart failure patient with end-stage renal disease wished to have an LVAD implanted. Japan’s national health system does not offer LVADs to patients who have another serious condition, such as kidney failure. Yet, the patient did get an exemption in his case, perhaps because the doctors wanted to try routing the cable so it comes out of the head. This was because the patient likes to soak in the bath, and raising the cable’s exit port above the water line was desired.
The surgery successfully routed the power cable through the neck and out of the head, approximately where bone conducting hearing aids are typically connected. The LVAD has been energized and the patient safely discharged to go home and soak away in the tub.