Artificial Heart (Left Ventricular Assist Device)

Several models of ventricular assist devices (VADs) — also called artificial heart devices
— exist.

Device selection depends on many criteria, such as:

  • Blood type
  • Medical history
  • Presence of a bleeding disorder
  • Body size

Devices provide left, right, or both left and right heart support.

Your doctors will know which one is right for you. In some cases, your condition will dictate your doctor's decision.    

From recovery to repair to replacement pie chart.
UPMC has implanted 722
ventricular assist devices
from a variety of manufacturers.

Types of Ventricular Assist Devices


  • Allows quick surgical insertion and easy operation without confining you to bed during use.
  • Types of therapy: FDA-approved as a bridge to heart recovery device.


Image of the Centrimag model of ventricular assist device.
  • Continuous flow centrifugal device.
  • Uses magnetic forces to suspend and spin the rotor, which means there are no bearings to wear out.
  • External device with tubes connecting it to the heart, typically confining you to bed during use.
  • Types of therapy: approved for bridge to recovery.

Heartmate® II

Image of the Heartmate 2 model of ventricular assist device.
  • Continuous flow device. Implanted pump is about the size of a D-cell battery.
  • An impeller spins at high speeds to provide blood flow up to 10 liters per minute.
  • Provides support for the left side of the heart.
  • Suitable for smaller patients.
  • Highly mobile; you are typically discharged from the hospital.
  • Has been implanted in more than 300 patients in the United States.
  • Types of therapy: approved for bridge to transplantation; currently in clinical trials for use as destination therapy.

HeartWare® Ventricular Assist System

Image of HeartWare model of ventricular assist device.
  • Helps your weakened heart pump blood by removing blood from the left side of the heart and pumping it into the aorta.
  • Pump rests inside the chest with a cable exiting the skin that connects to an externally worn controller.
  • Battery-pack-powered controller operates the pump and can provide you with signals and alarms concerning the system’s operation.
  • Controller and batteries are contained in a carrying case worn around your waist or over your shoulder.
  • Types of therapy: approved for bridge to transplantation

Tandem Heart®

Image of Tandem Heart model of ventricular assist device.
  • Can be inserted quickly, without the need for surgery.
  • Often used to recover natural heart function for a brief period and as an interim device before surgical implantation of a VAD.
  • Also used for temporary right-heart support.
  • Types of therapy: approved for bridge to recovery.

Thoratec® PVAD

Image of Throratec PVAD model of ventricular assist device.
  • Can support the right or left side of the heart, or both sides simultaneously.
  • External pump located outside of the body is driven pneumatically (by air pressure) rather than electrically.
  • Primary controller, used after surgery in the hospital, is a 450-pound, air-driven console.
  • Smaller, portable 30-pound driver allows you to be discharged from the hospital and can also run on rechargeable battery power.
  • Types of therapy: approved for bridge to transplantation, and bridge to recovery after open-heart surgery.

® The above product names are registered trademarks of:

  • Abiomed, Inc.
  • Thermedics, Inc.
  • Levitronix, LLC
  • Baxter Healthcare Corporation
  • Cardiacassist, Inc.
  • HeartWare International Inc.
  • Thoratec Corporation
  • Ventracor Limited Ltd.

Interested in learning more about heart and vascular treatment?

Request an appointment today.

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