This study reviews the clinical outcome of the 132 orthotopic heart transplantations performed at our institute from 1984 through 1991 and focuses on the pathology of those patients who died. The study comprised 124 adults (mean age, 45.6 +/- 0.9 years) and eight children. Twenty-six adult and one pediatric deaths occurred. Operative mortality (within 30 days) was 10.6%, with 84.8% of patients surviving to discharge. Actuarial probabilities of survival at 1 and 5 years were 84% +/- 3% and 71% +/- 6%, respectively. Of the 27 deaths, six (22.2%) occurred in the operating room (from hemorrhage, graft failure, and hyperacute rejection); 14 (51.9%) occurred in-hospital after surgery (from sepsis, rejection, cytomegalovirus disease, or myocardial infarct), and seven (25.9%) occurred after discharge (from rejection and/or recurrent coronary artery disease). Two groups of patients were at higher risk: patients in cardiogenic shock requiring pretransplantation mechanical support, with in-hospital mortality of 39.1%; and patients with previous valve replacement who were taking oral anticoagulants, with intraoperative mortality of 50.0%. Pathologic examination revealed occasional instances of unsuspected coronary artery disease in the donor hearts with more than 50% stenoses of the left anterior descending coronary arteries in three of 21 (14.3%) of cases. Complications of the transplantation or related therapeutic procedures were common among those who died. The complications ranged from functionally insignificant anatomic curiosities to life-threatening problems. These complications are tabulated and shown.
To assess the relative efficacy of cardiac transplantation after mechanical circulatory support with a variety of support systems, we analyzed our consecutive series of patients who had and did not have mechanical support before transplantation.
A review of 209 patients undergoing cardiac transplantation from 1984 to May 1995 was performed. Group 1 consisted of 110 patients who were maintained on oral medications while awaiting transplantation, and group 2 consisted of 60 patients who required intravenous inotropic support. Group 3 included 39 patients who had transplantation after mechanical circulatory support for cardiogenic shock. The indication for device implantation was acute onset of cardiogenic shock in 38 patients and deterioration while awaiting transplantation in 1 patient. The support systems were an intraaortic balloon pump in 13 (subgroup 3A), a ventricular assist device in 7 (subgroup 3B), and a total artificial heart in 19 patients (subgroup 3C).
After transplantation, infection was more common in group 3 (56%) than in group 1 (28%) or group 2 (32%) (p = 0.005). Survival to discharge was lower for group 3 (71.7%) than for group 1 (90.9%) or 2 (88.3%) (p = 0.009). For mechanically supported patients, survival to discharge was 84.6% in subgroup 3A, 71.4% in subgroup 3B, and 63.1% in subgroup 3C (p = not significant).
Transplantation after mechanical support offers acceptable results in this group of patients for whom the only alternative is certain death. Patient selection and perioperative management remain the challenge to improving these results.
Treatment with the mechanical heart, HeartMate, has been introduced in Denmark. Short-term circulatory support can be obtained by intraaortic balloon counterpulsation, an external centrifugal pump and the total artificial heart. Long-term circulatory support can be established by treatment with the HeartMate. The principle of the mechanical heart is simple--a pump is implanted in parallel to the existing heart and connected to external, portable batteries. The patient quickly improves and is brought in an optimal state for transplantation. A few patients have been able to omit the subsequent heart transplantation. The patient's own heart improved during the treatment and the native heart functioned again after the system was explanted. The main complications during treatment are bleeding, infection, thromboembolic events and systemic failure. Permanent, fully implantable mechanical circulatory pumps are under development--which may herald the beginning of a whole new era for treatment of cardiac failure.
This economic evaluation was performed to assess the economic consequences for society and for the Danish health care sector of replacing the traditional treatment with Biomedicus assist device with The Mechanical Heart, HeartMate, as a bridge to transplantation for patients with severe cardiac failure. A cost-effectiveness analysis showed that the use of HeartMate is more cost-effective than the use of Biomedicus assist device. Using HeartMate one life-year gained costs DKK 225,000. Using Biomedicus one life-year gained costs DKK 270,000. The use of HeartMate results in an additional expenditure of DKK 615,000 per patient. By this additional expenditure the patients gain 3.6 extra life-years on average. The marginal expenditure by replacing the Biomedicus treatment with HeartMate is DKK 170,000 per extra life-year gained.