Research Article| Volume 27, ISSUE 11, P1195-1202, November 2021

Enhanced Recovery After Surgery in Patients Implanted with Left Ventricular Assist Device


      • This article describes the application of enhanced recovery after surgery principles to a unique surgical population with a known prolonged length of stay.
      • Comprehensive enhanced recovery after surgery protocol for patients with a left ventricular assist device improves postoperative outcomes, including a decrease in the number of patients discharged on opioid medications or to the rehabilitation facilities.
      • Supporting team awareness, vigilance, and ownership of specific protocols improves implementation.



      We sought to develop and implement a comprehensive enhanced recovery after surgery (ERAS) protocol for patients implanted with a left ventricular assist device (LVAD).

      Methods and Results

      In this article, we describe our approach to the development and phased implementation of the protocol. Additionally, we reviewed prospectively collected data for patients who underwent LVAD implantation at our institution from February 2019 to August 2020. To compare early outcomes in our patients before and after protocol implementation, we dichotomized patients into two 6-month cohorts (the pre-ERAS and ERAS cohorts) separated from each other by 6 months to allow for staff adoption of the protocol. Of the 115 LVAD implants, 38 patients were implanted in the pre-ERAS period and 46 patients in the ERAS period. Preoperatively, the patients` characteristics were similar between the cohorts. Postoperatively, we observed a decrease in bleeding (chest tube output of 1006 vs 647.5 mL, P < .001) and blood transfusions (fresh frozen plasma 31.6% vs 6.7%, P = .04; platelets 42.1% vs 8.7%, P = .001). Opioid prescription at discharge were 5-fold lower with the ERAS approach (P < .01). Furthermore, the number of patients discharged to a rehabilitation facility decreased significantly (20.0% vs 2.4%, P = .02). The index hospitalization length of stay and survival were similar between the groups.


      ERAS for patients undergoing LVAD implantation is a novel, evidence-based, interdisciplinary approach to care with multiple potential benefits. In this article, we describe the details of the protocol and early positive changes in clinical outcomes. Further studies are needed to evaluate benefits of an ERAS protocol in an LVAD population.Lay Summary: Enhanced recovery after surgery (ERAS) is the implementation of standardized clinical pathways that ensures the use of best practices and decreased variation in perioperative care. Multidisciplinary teams work together on ERAS, thereby enhancing communication among health care silos. ERAS has been used for more than 30 years by other surgical services and has been shown to lead to a decreased length of stay, fewer complications, lower mortality, fewer readmissions, greater job satisfaction, and lower costs. Our goal was to translate these benefits to the perioperative care of complex patients with a left ventricular assist device. Early results suggest that this goal is possible; we have observed a decrease in transfusions, discharge on opioids, and discharge to a rehabilitation facility.

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