Article Abstract

Mechanical circulatory support in pediatrics

Authors: Fabrizio Gandolfo, Fabrizio De Rita, Asif Hasan, Massimo Griselli


There is no reliable published data on the overall prevalence or incidence of heart failure (HF) in children. However, the success of mechanical circulatory support (MCS) in management of HF has raised the prospect of a previously unavailable treatment modality. Orthotopic heart transplant (OHTx) remains the gold standard treatment, but the number of patients requiring this treatment far outweighs the donor availability. It is therefore not surprising to see the popularity of various MCS modalities, with different devices ranging from veno-arterial extra corporeal membrane oxygenation (VA-ECMO) to ventricular assist devices (VADs), which are either para-corporeal or intra-corporeal, with pulsatile or continuous flow. Indication, timing and the choice of the type of mechanical support are crucial so in order to avoid potential lethal complications such as hemorrhage, thrombo-embolism and infections. In the pediatric population, MCS is used mainly as bridge to transplantation but can be used as bridge to recovery in patients with acute myocarditis or following open-heart surgery. Active research is currently underway to develop newer and more durable devices that will assist the pediatric population across all age groups. This research will support different pathologies that have lower incidences of major morbidities, particularly as greater durations of MCS are expected due to a paucity of donors for OHTx. The combined experience developed through the usage of different devices in pediatric and adult populations has led to the to the application of MCS in some subgroups of grown–up congenital heart diseases (CHDs) patients, particularly those with systemic right ventricular failure.