Pulmonary function assessment post-left ventricular assist device implantation

Pavol Sajgalik, Chul Ho Kim, John M. Stulak, Sudhir S. Kushwaha, Simon Maltais, David L. Joyce, Lyle D. Joyce, Bruce D. Johnson, John A. Schirger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Aim: The lungs—and particularly the alveolar-capillary membrane—may be sensitive to continuous flow (CF) and pulmonary pressure alterations in heart failure (HF). We aimed to investigate long-term effects of CF pumps on respiratory function. Methods and results: We conducted a retrospective study of patients with end-stage HF at our institution. We analysed pulmonary function tests [e.g. forced vital capacity (FVC) and forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV1)] and diffusing capacity of the lung for carbon monoxide (DLCO) from before and after left ventricular assist device (LVAD) implantation and compared them with invasive haemodynamic studies. Of the 274 patients screened, final study analysis involved 44 patients with end-stage HF who had CF LVAD implantation between 1 February 2007 and 31 December 2015 at our institution. These patients [mean (standard deviation, SD) age, 50 (9) years; male sex, n = 33, 75%] received either the HeartMate II (Thoratec Corp.) pump (77%) or the HeartWare (HeartWare International Inc.) pump. The mean (SD) left ventricular ejection fraction was 21% (13%). At a median of 237 days post-LVAD implantation, we observed significant DLCO decrease (−23%) since pre-implantation (P < 0.001). ΔDLCO had an inverse relationship with changes in pulmonary capillary wedge pressure (PCWP) and right atrial pressure (RAP) from pre-LVAD to post-LVAD implantation: ΔDLCO to ΔPCWP (r = 0.50, P < 0.01) and ΔDLCO to ΔRAP (r = 0.39, P < 0.05). We observed other reductions in FEV1, FVC, and FEV1/FVC between pre-LVAD and post-LVAD implantation. In mean (SD) values, FEV1 changed from 2.3 (0.7) to 2.1 (0.7) (P = 0.005); FVC decreased from 3.2 (0.8) to 2.9 (0.9) (P = 0.01); and FEV1/FVC went from 0.72 (0.1) to 0.72 (0.1) (P = 0.50). Landmark survival analysis revealed that ΔDLCO from 6 months after LVAD implantation was predictive of death for HF patients [hazard ratio (95% confidence interval), 0.60 (0.28–0.98); P = 0.03]. Conclusions: Pulmonary function did not improve after LVAD implantation. The degree of DLCO deterioration is related to haemodynamic status post-LVAD implantation. The ΔDLCO within 6 months post-operative was associated with survival.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)53-61
Number of pages9
JournalESC Heart Failure
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2019


  • Continuous flow pumps
  • D
  • Pulmonary circulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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