According to a new study a clot-buster injection may unclog a mechanical heart pump, reconditioning the blood flow. Markus Rothenburger, M.D., researcher from University Hospital in Germany, felt that this is a simple solution to a very serious problem for heart failure patients who receive left ventricular assist devices.
A left ventricular assist device is a mechanical pump-like device that is surgically implanted to maintain the pumping ability of a heart that can't dynamically work on its own. Clot-busting drugs, known as thrombolytic therapy, dissolve blood clots that impair blood flow.
The device used in the study, the recently introduced MicroMed DeBakey VAD, differs from other LVADs in that it generates a continuous blood flow rather than a pulsing one. The advantage over similar devices is smaller size and less noise. Researchers felt that the smaller size seems to have reduced the incidence of thromboembolism, or a blood clot that moves through the blood stream before blocking an artery.
Researchers studied 20 patients who used the MicroMed DeBakey VAD. The pump flow was critically reduced in eight patients. Dr. Rothenburger felt that despite these advances, [the device's] axial pump seems to be associated with a higher risk for clot formation, which then might cause device malfunction and peripheral thromboembolism. He added , however, that this serious complication can be treated dynamically and an exchange of the device would not be essential.