Management and outcome of intracranial hemorrhage in patients with left ventricular assist devices

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  • 1 Department of Neurosurgery, Northwestern University Medical Center;
  • | 2 Department of Cardiac Surgery, Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute, Northwestern University Medical Center;
  • | 3 Department of Medicine, Division of Cardiology, Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute, Northwestern University Medical Center; and
  • | 4 Department of Radiology, Northwestern University Medical Center, Chicago, Illinois
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As the use of left ventricular assist devices (LVADs) has expanded, cerebrovascular complications have become an increasing source of morbidity and mortality in this population. Intracranial hemorrhage (ICH) in particular remains a devastating complication in patients who undergo LVAD placement with no defined management guidelines. The authors therefore reviewed surgical and anticoagulation management and outcomes of patients with LVADs who presented to their institution with ICH.


This retrospective cohort study assessed outcomes of patients who underwent LVAD placement at a single institution between 2007 and 2016 and in whom imaging demonstrated ICH.


During the study period, 281 patients had a HeartMate II or HeartWare LVAD placed. There were 37 episodes of ICH (recurrent in 3 cases). ICHs were categorized as intraparenchymal hemorrhage (IPH; n = 22, 59%), subdural hemorrhage (SDH; n = 6, 16%), and subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH; n = 9, 24%). Neurosurgical intervention was deemed necessary in 27.3%, 66.7%, and 0% of patients with IPH, SDH, and SAH, respectively; overall survival > 30 days for each type of hemorrhage was 41%, 83%, and 89%, respectively. No patients had LVAD thrombus as a result of reversal of anticoagulation. Combined with prior reports, good outcomes are seen more often following surgery for SDH than for IPH (57% vs 7%, p = 0.004) in patients who underwent VAD placement.


Patients with IPH who undergo LVAD placement have poor outcomes regardless of anticoagulation reversal or neurosurgical intervention, whereas those with SDH may have good outcomes with medical and surgical intervention, and those with SAH appear to do well without anticoagulation reversal or surgery. When needed, anticoagulation reversal was not associated with an increase in LVAD thrombosis in this series.


AIR = acute inpatient rehabilitation; GCS = Glasgow Coma Scale; GI = gastrointestinal; ICH = intracranial hemorrhage; INR = international normalized ratio; IPH = intraparenchymal hemorrhage; LTACH = long-term acute care hospital; LVAD = left ventricular assist device; SAH = subarachnoid hemorrhage; SDH = subdural hemorrhage; SNF = subacute nursing facility; VAD = ventricular assist device.

Supplementary Materials

    • Supplementary Tables S1 & S2 (PDF 421 KB)

Illustration from Duan et al. (pp 1174–1181).

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