Variability in clinical decision-making for ventricular assist device implantation in pediatrics

Anna Joong*, Jeffrey G. Gossett, Elizabeth D. Blume, Philip Thrush, Elfriede Pahl, Michael C. Mongé, Carl L Backer, Angira Patel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Background: Minimal data exist on clinical decision-making in VAD implantation in pediatrics. This study aims to identify areas of consensus/variability among pediatric VAD physicians in determining eligibility and factors that guide decision-making. Methods: An 88-item survey with clinical vignettes was sent to 132 pediatric HT cardiologists and surgeons at 37 centers. Summary statistics are presented for the variables assessed. Results: Total respondents were 65 (72% cardiologists, 28% surgeons) whose centers implanted 1-5 (34%), 6-10 (40%), or >10 (26%) VADs in the past year. Consensus varied by patients’ age, diagnosis, and Pedimacs profile. Highest agreement to offer VAD (97%) was a mechanically ventilated teenager with dilated cardiomyopathy. Patients stable on inotropes were less likely offered VAD (11%-25%). SV infant with Pedimacs profile 2 had the most varied responses: 37% offered VAD; estimated survival ranged from 15% to 90%. Variables considered for VAD eligibility included mild developmental delays (100% offered VAD), moderate-severe behavioral concerns (46%), cancer in remission >2 years (100%), active malignancy with good prognosis (68%) or uncertain prognosis (36%), and BMI >35 (74%) or <15 (69%). Most respondents (91%) would consider destination therapy VADs in pediatrics, though not currently feasible at 1/3 of centers. Factors with greatest influence on decision-making included HT candidacy, families’ goals of care, and risks of complications. Conclusions: Significant variation exists among pediatric VAD physicians when determining VAD eligibility and estimating survival, which can lead to differences in access to emerging technologies across institutions. Further work is needed to understand and mitigate these differences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere13840
JournalPediatric transplantation
Issue number8
StatePublished - Dec 2020


  • heart failure
  • pediatric cardiology
  • ventricular assist device

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Transplantation


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