What is a Ventricular Assist Device?

A ventricular assist device, or VAD, is a battery-operated, mechanical pump that is surgically implanted into the chest and partially or completely takes over the function of a failing heart. a VAD can be a lifesaving device for patients with advanced congestive heart failure.

Who needs a VAD?

A VAD is often implanted in patients with advanced heart failure for whom medical therapy has failed and who are waiting for a heart transplant. This is termed “bridge to transplant.” A VAD may also serve as a “bridge to recovery,” where the device is implanted temporarily after an open heart surgery to give a patient’s heart extra time to recover. Most recently, VADs have been approved for use at Seton’s Heart Specialty Care and Transplant Center as a “destination therapy” for patients who are not candidates for heart transplantation.
Click herefor a “destination therapy” patient story.

How does a VAD Work?

The VAD uses a mechanical pump to assist the heart in pumping blood. The device attaches at both your left ventricle and your aorta. The pump brings blood from the left ventricle to the aorta, which supplies oxygenated blood to the rest of your body. This action decreases the amount of work required of the left ventricle and improves overall organ function.(View Animation)

The device can temporarily relieve many of the symptoms associated with heart failure, such as fatigue and breathlessness.

Abiomed BVS 5000 Device


Thoratec Heartmate II Ventricular Assist Device


There are many different types and models of ventricular assist devices and your surgeon will help you choose the one that is best for your specific condition. VAD technology has advanced quickly, providing new options to improve the quality of life for advanced heart failure patients and their families. Today’s pumps are smaller than their predecessors, are battery-powered and allow patients to return home and resume many normal activities. Recent technological advances have made VADs available to a wider range of patients. These devices are either partially or completely implanted within the body. A battery pack is worn on your person, usually around your waist.

The CTVS Experience with Ventricular Assist Devices

The CTVS transplant surgeons have more than 17 years of experience with Ventricular Assist Devices and have access to several different models and designs of the VAD. Experience and a wide range of treatment options allow our surgeons to work with patients and families to provide the best quality of life possible.

Visit the Seton Ventricular Assist Device Program Website for more information on other devices.