Advanced Heart Failure and Ventricular Assist Device (VAD) Program

Advanced Heart Failure and Mechanical Circulatory Support

For patients with advanced heart failure, Vanderbilt Heart and Vascular Institute can offer mechanical cardiac support with a ventricular assist device (VAD). VADs are surgically implanted medical pumps that take over much of the work for the heart.

Vanderbilt Heart and Vascular Institute (VHVI) is recognized as a world leader in the management of patients with advanced heart failure. We use mechanical cardiac support to treat patients suffering from severe congestive heart failure.

VADs may be used as a "bridge" to heart transplant, or as a primary treatment for advanced heart failure patients not eligible for heart transplantation (called "destination" therapy).

Left Ventricular Assist Devices

Ventricular Assistance Device illustration

HMII device photo

VADs are surgically implanted into patients when their heart is too weak to pump blood on its own. Once the device is implanted and attached to the left, right or both ventricles of the heart, the system is powered by wires leading to external batteries carried in a portable pack. At home, the system uses electricity when not battery-powered. The result for the patient? Easier breathing, less fatigue and improved organ function. More importantly, many patients are able to leave the hospital and enjoy increased mobility, resuming normal activities, often including travel.

VHVI VAD Program uses more than 8 types of mechanical assist devices to support and improve the function of the heart in patients in critical condition the highest at risk of dying from multiple organ failure. End stage heart failure is being redefined at Vanderbilt as an interim stage in the progress of the disease a coda, rather than a conclusion for patients in the late stage of heart failure who are ineligible for heart transplant surgery.

Mary E. Keebler, M.D. is a heart failure specialist and the medical director of the Mechanical Support Program. She has been a leader in helping to manage patients with advanced heart failure, as implantation of a VAD does not end with the surgery. Careful selection of patients and state-of-the-art postoperative care is critical, while this population is waiting for a new heart or adjusting with the challenges of living with the device.

The VHVI Difference

Physician expertise that translates to state-of-the-art quality of care

Our team consists of implantation specialists with board-certification and fellowship-trained cardiothoracic surgeons. We also have highly trained specialists in the latest mechanical-assist technologies.

Collaborative relationships

VHVI and the mechanical-assist device team constantly creates new scientific partnerships to give patients early access to the latest in mechanical devices that support or replace heart functions.

Integrated and coordinated care

The Vanderbilt Heart team is one of the best in the country. Our integrated team of doctors and staff treat patients with advanced heart failure and circulatory support devices in a unique collaborative environment. We offer a wide range of services in one location, so our patients can expect world-class care that's convenient and tailored to their needs.

Unique capabilities

An inventory of the world's most sophisticated mechanical-assist devices means theres an option available to fit virtually every patient that comes to VHVI.

Being Evaluated for VAD: What to Expect

A VAD evaulatuation will determine if you are a good fit medically, surgically, emotionally and mentally for a VAD device. Read more about your VAD evaluation (PDF).

Appointments & Location

To make an appointment with one of our Vanderbilt Heart physicians, please call (615) 322-2318. For VAD patient referrals, please call (615) 343-3892.

We are located at:
1215 21st Avenue South
Medical Center East, Suite 5209
Nashville, TN 37232

Contact Us

Referrals/ Information
(615) 343-3892