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UW Hospital First in U.S. to Use the TandemHeart Percutaneous Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD)

TandemHeart LVADMADISON - In January 2004, UW Hospital and Clinics became the first hospital in the United States to use the TandemHeart® percutaneous ventricular assist device, a pump that takes over the work of the patient's heart during surgery, on a non-clinical trial patient.
 
UW Health interventional cardiologists performed a complex angioplasty procedure on 65-year-old Spring Green resident Frank Wetzel, while the TandemHeart® stabilized him during the procedure, essentially pumping his heart and steadying his blood pressure.
 
TandemHeart® was developed with patients like Wetzel in mind. The pump is placed outside the patient's thigh, and a tube is inserted through a large vein in the patient's leg into the left side of the heart. A second tube is inserted into the patient's femoral artery, and the pump is connected to a micro-processing computer that assists the patient's heart during a procedure. Wolff estimated that TandemHeart® can maintain between two-thirds and three-quarters of the heart's normal blood flow.
 
Patients can remain on the pump for weeks if necessary, providing ample time for recovery without placing undue strain on the patient's already weakened heart. Without the pump, procedures such as angioplasty would pose a far more serious risk for patients like Wetzel. Wetzel will return home today.
 
Without the pump, Wetzel would have been looking at open-heart surgery and been in the hospital for a week, at least, followed by about two months of recovery time.
 
Developed by CardiacAssist, Inc., a Pittsburgh-based medical device company that develops, manufactures and markets cardiac assist devices, TandemHeart® was tested rigorously in clinical trials sponsored by the FDA, but Wetzel is the first patient not associated with a clinical trial to use the pump.