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February 23, 1976

Ethical Considerations of the Left Ventricular Assist Device

JAMA. 1976;235(8):823-824. doi:10.1001/jama.1976.03260340029015

THE COMMITTEE on Ethics of the American Heart Association has considered the ethical aspects of the use of the left ventricular cardiac assist device (LVAD). There are indications that its evaluation in patients may occur soon.

THE MEDICAL PROBLEM  The left ventricular assist device (LVAD) is a pump, a part of which is implanted in the body and connected by tubing through the skin to a power and servocontrol console at the patient's bedside. The LVAD is not a totally implantable artificial heart; the subject remains connected to the console.Large animals have been successfully maintained with the LVAD. However, biological or engineering failure of the device occurs and is inevitable after a time. Failure may occur because of infection, clots, embolization, and breakdown of the plastic lining of the device. Evaluation in animals indicates that LVAD can support continuously the circulation in an alert, normally functioning, and unsedated animal