UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: Critical Care

Title: VAD Troubleshooting

Keywords: VAD, LVAD, Heart Failure (PubMed Search)

Posted: 9/9/2019 by Mark Sutherland (Emailed: 9/10/2019) (Updated: 9/10/2019)
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It's important to remember the differential for the patient with Ventricular Assist Device (VAD) difficulties, as these patients are likely to show up in your ED. 

 

1) Assess the patient as you usually would (signs of life, mental status, breathing, arrhythmias on monitor, etc). Listen for a hum over the chest.  Don't expect to feel a pulse.

2) Look at the VAD including controller, driveline, and power source for alarms, disconnections, signs of infection, and other obvious issues.

3) Look at the power (displayed flow), pulsatility index, and pump speed on the controller to help determine the cause of the issue (see attached chart).  Once you have a suspected etiology, typical management of these issues is usually similar to non-VAD patients (i.e. gentle IVF for hypovolemia, vasodilators if low flow is due to afterload/hypertension, defibrillation/CPR for arresting pts, etc).

Don't forget to call your VAD coordinator when able.  Consider a-line placement for precise evaluation of blood pressure (focus on MAP).

 

Bottom Line: Consider obstruction/thrombosis, bleeding, infection, hypovolemia, afterload/hypertension, arrhythmia, worsening LV function, and suction events when troubleshooting VADs.  The power, pulsatility index, and pump speed help differentiate these conditions.

References

http://maryland.ccproject.com/2013/12/12/introduction-ventricular-assist-devices/

Bowles CTHards RWrightson N, et al
Algorithms to guide ambulance clinicians in the management of emergencies in patients with implanted rotary left ventricular assist devices

Attachments

VAD_Differential.jpg (134 Kb)