A ventricular assist device, or VAD, is a mechanical pump that helps failing hearts pump blood throughout the body.

As heart failure progresses, the heart's chambers become weaker and less able to circulate blood throughout the body. A VAD takes over the pumping function of the lower chambers (ventricles).

VADs are used either as a permanent solution to heart failure or as a bridge to heart transplant.

At the University of Maryland Heart and Vascular Center, our heart surgery team are experts at implanting VADs. Our team was the first to use a minimally invasive technique to implant VADs, and we continue to take part in pioneering research and clinical trials to find new ways to treat patients with the device.

To learn more about our program or to make an appointment, call 410-328-2864.

How VADs Work

If your heart can't pump blood as well as it should, this is called heart failure. It is a treatable condition, but it sometimes cannot be reversed and requires surgery.

A ventricular assist device is an option for those whose heart failure affects the heart's lower two chambers.

It is an implantable device that can help one or both of the ventricles pump blood. In most cases, the device is used to support the left ventricle, which pumps blood through the body's main blood vessel to the rest of the body. This is called an LVAD (left ventricular assist device).

VAD Surgery

During surgery, a pump and tubes are implanted under the skin. The pump forces blood to flow correctly, and blood goes to the proper blood vessels through tubes connected to the pump.

The pump is connected to a control unit on the outside of the body. It is a computer that controls the pump and alerts the patient if there are any issues with the device.

The device can be implanted either through open surgery or through minimally invasive options. We approach each patient differently and will recommend the best option for you or your loved one.

Minimally Invasive VAD Surgery

Whenever possible, we will suggest minimally invasive options because it allows for:

  • Fewer complications
  • Shorter length of stay
  • Faster recovery time
  • Less scarring, an important consideration for patients awaiting a heart transplant, since scar tissue can complicate the removal of the damaged heart

Our Center is one of only a few in the country performing this minimally invasive VAD technique. While a minimally invasive surgery for VAD implantation is a more difficult and complex surgery than the open technique, we have the resources, skills and expertise to perform it successfully on the right patient.

Who is a Candidate?

We evaluate each patient to find the best approach for them. People who may be candidates for a VAD include patients:

  • Waiting for a heart transplant
  • Who are not a candidate for heart transplant
  • Recovering from heart surgery who need a VAD temporarily

If a VAD is the best option for you, we will discuss the different VAD options to find an approach that will best help you.

Make an Appointment

To learn more about VADs or to make an appointment with our heart surgery team, call 410-328-2864.