Artificial Heart: Devices and Procedures

Heart ImageFrom 1969 to September 5, 2014, 1,413 artificial heart devices with 13 different designs were implanted in heart failure patients. The SynCardia temporary Total Artificial Heart (TAH) is the modern version of the well-known Jarvik-7 Total Artificial Heart that was implanted for the first time in 1982. The SynCardia TAH was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Adminisration (FDA) in 20014 is an air-driven pump that is implanted as a bridge to human heart transplantation in patients who have severe right and left-sided heart failure.

Prior to implantation, the failing heart is removed. The pump is driven by a large console that provides compressed air in pulses to power the artificial heart. Clinical indications for the SynCardia TAH include biventricular failure, left ventricular (LV) failure with prior mechanical heart valves, LV failure with severe anatomical damage (ventricular septal defect, atrioventricular disruption), intractable malignant arrhythmias, massive ventricular thrombus, cardiac allograft failure, hypertrophic or restrictive cardiomyopathy, and complex CHD.

Artificial heart devices generally can function for about one year, but an Italian patient lived for nearly four years with an artificial heart, prior to undergoing a successful heart transplant. A November 2014 study published in the Annals of Cardiothoracic Surgery, stated that, “The SynCardia total artificial heart (TAH) currently provides the most definitive option for patients with biventricular failure who are not candidates for isolated left ventricular (LV) assist device placement.” Operative results have improved considerably in the last two decades, so even though the recipients are critically ill, several heart centers have reported successful bridge to transplantation rates as high as 70%.

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