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Beneficial aspects of real time flow measurements for the management of acute right ventricular heart failure following continuous flow ventricular assist device implantation

Sotirios Spiliopoulos*, Dilek Guersoy, Reiner Koerfer and Gero Tenderich

Author Affiliations

Department for the Surgical Management of End-stage Heart Failure and Mechanical Circulatory Support, Heart and Vascular Center Duisburg, Fahrner street 133-135, 47169, Duisburg, Germany

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Journal of Cardiothoracic Surgery 2012, 7:119  doi:10.1186/1749-8090-7-119

Published: 12 November 2012



Optimal management of acute right heart failure following the implantation of a left ventricular assist device requires a reliable estimation of left ventricular preload and contractility. This is possible by real-time pump blood flow measurements.

Clinical case

We performed implantation of a continuous flow left ventricular assist device in a 66 years old female patient with an end-stage heart failure on the grounds of a dilated cardiomyopathy. Real-time pump blood flow was directly measured by an ultrasonic flow probe placed around the outflow graft.


The progressive decline of real time flow and the loss of pulsatility were associated with an increase of central venous pressure, inotropic therapy and progressive renal failure suggesting the presence of an acute right heart failure. Diagnosis was validated by echocardiography and thermodilution measurements.


Temporary mechanical circulatory support of the right ventricle was successfully performed. Real time flow measurement proved to be a useful tool for the diagnosis and ultimately for the management of right heart failure including the weaning from extracorporeal membrane oxygenation.

Heart failure; Right ventricle; Ventricular assist devices