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What is it?
Syncardia Systems’ CardioWest Temporary Total Artificial Heart (TAH-t) is an implantable biventricular blood pumping device serving as a bridge-to-heart-transplant. The technology fully replaces the two native ventricles, attaching to the partially remaining atria through “Quick Connect” cuffs. The 50 cc device weighs 160 grams. The only driver approved in the U.S. for the TAH is the “Big Blue” external pneumatic driver; the Companion I driver is a fraction of the Big Blue’s 400 lbs, and has received CE Mark approval in Europe (awaiting approval by the FDA).
How does it work?
The CardioWest TAH-t functions using a partial fill and full eject mechanism that provides up to 9.5 L/min of cardiac output through pulsatile flow. Although TAH replaces both diseased heart ventricles, the chest cavity must still be able to accommodate the large device, requiring a minimum body surface area of 1.7 m2.
What problem does it solve?
- Educating referring PCPs and cardiologists about the benefits of a VAD or TAH as well as its clinical potential is critical to retaining program volumes given that many patients are presently referred at a very late HF stage for these devices
- Given that the device is costly and procedures are not likely to be extremely profitable due to long hospital stays and multiple patient comorbidities, facilities should aim to maximize the marketing potential of the total artificial heart, which can raise a hospital’s profile for HF care and possibly bring in other ancillary CV volumes