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UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute Performs Pennsylvania’s First Minimally Invasive Heart Pump Implant

PITTSBURGH, Jan. 6, 2014 - UPMC surgeons are the first in Pennsylvania to use a minimally invasive surgical approach to implant a left ventricular assist device (LVAD), a portable pump that supports the failing heart in patients with end-stage heart failure. The surgery was performed at UPMC Presbyterian in early December on a 59-year-old man from Dunbar, Pa.  

The patient, who is now recovering at home, had suffered from non-ischemic cardiomyopathy, a condition that weakens the heart and inhibits its ability to pump blood. 

The procedure involved the Heartware HVAD pump, which was placed using a minimally invasive approach. Traditionally, VAD implants require a full sternotomy, where the chest is opened and the breast bone completely divided to provide access to the heart. 

“The less-invasive approach offers a number of potential benefits for patients, including a lower risk of bleeding, smaller incisions and a quicker recovery, leading to shorter hospitalization,” said Jay K. Bhama, M.D., lead surgeon for the procedure and associate director of the UPMC Artificial Heart Program.

VAD implantation can give renewed life to patients with advanced heart failure who are not helped by conventional medical therapy or who are waiting for a heart transplant. “Advances in VAD design have yielded smaller pumps, improving both survival and quality of life in patients with heart failure,” said Robert Kormos, M.D., director of the Artificial Heart Program.

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