Background: Patients with a left ventricular assist device with right ventricular failure are prioritized on the heart transplant waitlist; however, their post-transplant survival is less well characterized. We aimed to determine whether pretransplant right ventricular failure affects postoperative survival in patients with a left ventricular assist device as a bridge to transplant. Methods: We performed a retrospective review of the 2005-2018 Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network/United Network for Organ Sharing registry for candidates aged 18 years or more waitlisted for first-time isolated heart transplantation after left ventricular assist device implantation. Candidates were stratified on the basis of having right ventricular failure, defined as the need for right ventricular assist device or intravenous inotropes. Baseline demographic and clinical characteristics were compared among the 3 groups, and post-transplant survival was assessed. Results: Our cohort included 5605 candidates who met inclusion criteria, including 450 patients with right ventricular failure, 344 patients with a left ventricular assist device and intravenous inotropes as a bridge to transplant, 106 patients with a left ventricular assist device and right ventricular assist device, and 5155 patients with a left ventricular assist device as a bridge to transplant without the need for right side support. Compared with patients without right ventricular failure, patients with a left ventricular assist device as a bridge to transplant with right ventricular failure were younger (median age 51 years, 55 vs 56 years, P < .001) and waited less time for organs (median 51 days, 93.5 vs 125 days, P < .001). These patients also had longer post-transplant length of stay (median 18 days, 20 vs 16 days, P < .001). Right ventricular failure was not associated with decreased post-transplant long-term survival on unadjusted Kaplan–Meier analysis (P = .18). Neither preoperative right ventricular assist device nor intravenous inotropes independently predicted worse survival on multivariate Cox proportional hazards analysis. However, pretransplant liver dysfunction (total bilirubin >2) was an independent predictor of worse survival (hazard ratio, 1.74; 95% confidence interval, 1.39-2.17; P < .001), specifically in the left ventricular assist device group and not in the left ventricular assist device + right ventricular assist device/intravenous inotropes group. Conclusions: Patients with biventricular failure are prioritized on the waiting list, because their critical pretransplant condition has limited impact on their post-transplant survival (short-term effect only); thus, surgeons should be confident to perform transplantation in these severely ill patients. Because liver dysfunction (a surrogate marker of right ventricular failure) was found to affect long-term survival in patients with a left ventricular assist device, surgeons should be encouraged to perform transplantation in these severely ill patients after a recipient's optimization by inotropes or a right ventricular assist device because even when the bilirubin level is elevated in these patients (treated with right ventricular assist device/inotropes), their long-term survival is not affected. Future studies should assess recipients' optimization before organ acceptance to improve long-term survival.
- heart transplantation
- RV failure