Intraoperative transesophageal echocardiography is beneficial for hemodynamic stabilization during left ventricular assist device implantation in children


Thierry V. Scohy, MD, Department of Anaesthesiology, Room Bd 581, Erasmus Medical Center, s’Gravendijkwal 32, 3015CE Rotterdam, The Netherlands (email:,


Background:  Mechanical circulatory support, with a left ventricular assist device (LVAD) is used in an increasing number of children for treatment of advanced heart failure as bridge-to-transplant. To date no data are available and no studies have defined the role of intraoperative transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) for hemodynamic stabilization during Centrimag Levitronix centrifugal pump implantation in children.

Methods:  Children with therapy resistant heart failure, undergoing LVAD implantation using Berlin Heart Excor pediatric cannula connected to a Levitronix Centrifumag pump, are intraoperatively monitored using an Oldelft micromultiplane TEE. Intraoperative TEE is specially used to monitor right ventricular (RV) and left ventricular (LV) function, correct position of the cannulas and response to pharmacological treatment.

Results:  In five consecutive patients RV function was assessed by TEE after starting LVAD Levitronix centrifugal pump. Initial RV failure presents with RV dilation and LV collapse. After titration of vasopressor and inotropic agents, RV contractility improved and thereby the filling of the LV. In one child, despite those measures the RV showed no improvement by TEE and a Levitronix right ventricular assist device to support the RV function was implanted as well. All patients could hemodynamically be stabilized before transport to the intensive care unit.

Conclusion:  The complex interaction of the RV and LV function and correct positioning of the cannula, during LVAD implantation in children with end-stage cardiac failure is improved by simultaneous visualization of cardiac performance of both ventricles and cannula positioning by means of intraoperative multiplane TEE.