Present and future perspectives on total artificial hearts
Due to shortages in donor organ availability, advanced heart-failure patients are at high risk of further decompensation and often death while awaiting transplantation. This shortage has led to the development of effective mechanical circulatory support (MCS). Currently, various implantable ventricular-assist devices (VADs) are able to provide temporary or long-term circulatory support for many end-stage heart-failure patients. Implantation of a total artificial heart (TAH) currently represents the surgical treatment option for patients requiring biventricular MCS as a bridge to transplant (BTT) or destination therapy (DT). However, the clinical applicability of available versions of positive displacement pumps is limited by their size and associated complications. Application of advanced technology is aimed at solving some of these issues, attempting to develop a new generation of smaller and more effective TAHs to suit a wider patient population. Particular targets for improvement include modifications to the biocompatibility of device designs and materials in order to decrease hemorrhagic and thromboembolic complications. Meanwhile, new systems to power implanted driving units which are fully operational without interruption of skin barriers represent a potential means of decreasing the risk of infections. In this review, we will discuss the history of the TAH, its development and clinical application, the implications of the existing technological solutions, published outcomes and the future outlook for TAHs.