Allograft rejection in patients supported with continuous-flow left ventricular assist devices

Aaron H. Healy, Nathan O. Mason, M. Elizabeth Hammond, Bruce B. Reid, Stephen E. Clayson, Stavros G. Drakos, Abdallah G. Kfoury, Amit N. Patel, David A. Bull, Deborah Budge, Rami A. Alharethi, Feras M. Bader, Edward M. Gilbert, Josef Stehlik, Craig H. Selzman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Background: Both pulsatile-flow and continuous-flow left ventricular assist devices (LVADs) successfully provide patients a bridge to transplantation. Some data suggest that continuous-flow pumps increase the risk of allograft rejection, contributing to posttransplantation morbidity and mortality. We sought to analyze the relationship between LVAD flow characteristics and subsequent allograft rejection in bridge to transplant (BTT) patients. Methods: Patients with LVADs from the UTAH Transplant Affiliated Hospitals were retrospectively analyzed. Rejection was determined pathologically according to the International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation revised cardiac allograft rejection scale. Multimodal statistical analyses were applied. Results: Of 1,076 patients who underwent transplantation over a 26-year period, 151 had LVADs. Of these, 111 (77 pulsatile flow, 34 continuous flow) patients had pathologic data available. There was no difference in overall rejection (grades 1R to 3R) between the pulsatile-flow LVAD and continuous-flow LVAD groups (2.00 ± 1.43 versus 1.50 ± 1.16 episodes/year; p = 0.076.) Patients with pulsatile-flow LVADs had more clinically relevant (grades 2R to 3R) rejection than did patients with continuous-flow LVADs (0.49 ± 0.72 versus 0.12 ± 0.33 episodes/year; p < 0.001). There was no survival difference at 1 year (p = 0.920) or 4 years (p = 0.721) after transplantation. Conclusions: Patients with continuous-flow LVADs have similar overall rejection rates and a reduced rate of clinically relevant rejection compared with patients with pulsatile-flow LVADs during the first year after transplantation. Although there is theoretical concern that nonphysiologic, nonpulsatile flow could alter the neurohormonal profile of patients in heart failure, we are encouraged that the type of LVAD circulation does not influence posttransplantation allograft survival.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1601-1607
Number of pages7
JournalAnnals of Thoracic Surgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2011
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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