Background: Left ventricular assist devices (LVADs) are an increasingly prevalent form of mechanical support for patients with end-stage heart failure. These devices can be implanted both as a bridge to transplant and as definitive/destination therapy. Gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding is one of the most common and recalcitrant long-term complications following LVAD implantation, with an incidence approaching 30 %. Aims: This review will discuss what is known about the pathophysiology of GI bleeding in LVADs and the currently available options for medical and/or endoscopic management. Results: The pathophysiology of bleeding is multifactorial, with hemodynamic alterations, acquired von Willebrand factor deficiency, and coagulopathy being most often implicated. The majority of bleeding events in this population result from angioectasias and gastroduodenal erosive disease. While these bleeding events are significant and often require transfusion therapy, they are rarely life threatening. Endoscopy remains the standard of care with upper endoscopy offering the highest diagnostic yield in these patients. However, the effectiveness of endoscopic hemostasis in this population is not well established. A small number of studies have evaluated medical therapy and alterations in LVAD settings as a means of preventing or treating bleeding with variable results. Conclusions: In summary, GI bleeding with LVADs is a common occurrence and will continue to be as more LVADs are being performed for destination therapy.
- Gastrointestinal bleeding
- Left ventricular assist device