What is a ventricular assist device (VAD)?

A ventricular assist device (VAD) is a mechanical pump that helps the heart function in patients with severe heart failure. It can serve as either a temporary or permanent support for your heart and often acts as a bridge for patients waiting for a heart transplant.

A VAD is implanted into the chest using open heart surgery. Once implanted, it pumps blood from the heart's lower chambers to the rest of the body. This pumping reduces your heart's workload, which can help prolong your life and improve symptoms like fatigue and breathlessness.

In some cases, the VAD may help return the heart to its normal functions. If this happens, the device can be removed.

All VADs consist of several parts. A small tube is connected to the heart and carries blood to the pump, which may be worn outside the body or implanted in the abdomen or chest. Another tube carries blood from the pump back to your aorta, the main artery in the body. There's also a control system and a battery pack, which are worn outside the body. The VAD's external parts are connected to the internal parts via a tube through the side of your abdomen.

Our approach to ventricular assist devices (VAD)

UCSF uses several different types of ventricular assist devices (VAD). The most common type, known as an LVAD, supports the left ventricle of the heart. Other types support the right ventricle (known as an RVAD) or both chambers (a biventricular assist device, or BiVAD). Our team will determine the best option for your specific situation.