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Two New Procedures are Breakthroughs in North Texas Cardiac Care

UT Southwestern offers a range of innovative solutions for patients with end-stage heart failure that allow the Medical Center to treat patients who couldn’t be cared for elsewhere in North Texas. Those options now include minimally invasive procedures for heart pump implantation.

Known as LVADs (left ventricular assist devices), heart pumps are often used as a bridge to transplant until a donor organ can become available. Until recently, LVADs were implanted into the chest during open surgery. Now, however, two UT Southwestern cardiothoracic surgeons have performed what is believed to be the first minimally invasive LVAD implantation in North Texas.

Dan Meyer, M.D., Director of Mechanical Assist Devices, and Brian Bethea, M.D., Assistant Professor of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery, recently implanted an LVAD using just two small incisions, each about 6 cm long, sparing the patient’s sternum.

“We’re very excited about minimally invasive LVADs because we think it may be a better option for a lot of patients,” Dr. Bethea says. “We’re optimistic this approach will make the heart transplant procedure easier when the time comes.” 

The minimally invasive LVAD surgery follows another procedure the two surgeons recently introduced to North Texas - the implantation of biventricular assist devices (BiVADs) in patients whose left and right ventricles are failing. Currently, there are no practical Food and Drug Administration-approved BiVADs, so Drs. Meyer and Bethea are treating patients in need of extended biventricular support with a procedure that implants LVADs on both ventricles - left and right.

“Left- and right-side ventricles are different sizes, so we have to modify the LVAD for use on the right side,” Dr. Meyer says. The new procedure, he adds, “is an innovative application of well-tested technology.

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To refer a patient for evaluation for a mechanical assist device, including a BiVAD, call the University Hospital Heart and Lung Clinic at 214-645-5505, or contact Dr. Meyer’s office at 214-645-7716.