ABSTRACT The use of ventricular assist devices (VADs) as a bridge to transplantation (BTT) has evolved considerably as clinical experience has grown and newer generation devices have become available. This study investigated the impact of VAD implantation on the clinical and economic outcomes of patients undergoing heart transplantation in the United States(US) from 2003-2007. A retrospective study was carried out using the Nationwide Inpatient Sample, to track the characteristics and outcomes of an estimated 7859 patients undergoing heart transplantation in the United States from 2003-2007. Patients were divided based on whether they were bridged to transplant with a VAD and whether they were outpatient (VAD Outpt) or inpatient (VAD Inpt). Multivariate analysis was performed to identify risk factors for inhospital mortality following heart transplantation. Hospital costs were also measured. A VAD was used as a BTT in 20.8% of patients undergoing heart transplantation during the study period. Early in the series the frequency of VAD Outpts and Inpts was similar but in later years patients were more commonly bridged as outpatients. Hospital mortality for the entire population was 6.2%. Multivariate analysis identified several risk factors for mortality, including advanced age, history of congenital heart disease, and VAD Inpt status. VAD Inpt status was the strongest predictor of mortality. The hospital cost of patients bridged as inpatients was more than double the cost of outpatients. Median hospital cost declined by 11% over the study period, from $115,868 to $103,578. Much of this cost reduction was related to the shift in VAD status from Inpt to Outpt. Heart transplant recipients are increasingly bridged to transplantation with VADs as outpatients. Those bridged as inpatients have substantially higher hospital mortality and cost. These findings have important clinical implications and should inform policy development, resource utilization and donor allocation.
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