Current studies underestimate the prevalence of brain injury in patients with left ventricular assist devices (LVADs), as CT scans are not sensitive in detecting cerebral ischemia. Using postmortem neuropathological evaluation, we sought to characterize the types and risk factors of brain injury in LVAD patients. We reviewed 24 LVAD patients who underwent brain autopsy with gross and microscopic examinations from 1993 through 2019 at a single tertiary center. Patients who expired less than 7 days after implantation or who underwent explantation more than 7 days before death were excluded. Our study demonstrated that all LVAD nonsurvivors developed brain injury. The most common brain injury was hemorrhage (71%), followed by infarct (42%) and hypoxic ischemic brain injury (HIBI) (33%), and 10 patients (42%) presented with more than 1 brain injury. Cerebral microbleeds (CMBs) and intracranial hemorrhage were present in 33% and 42%, respectively. In those with intracranial hemorrhage, subarachnoid hemorrhage (25%) and intracerebral hemorrhage (25%) were more common than subdural hematoma (4%). Intracranial hemorrhage was associated with driveline infection (P = 0.047), and HIBI was associated with prior history of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (P = 0.037). Fourteen (60%) had clinically silent brain injury with 65% of hemorrhages and 70% of infarcts being silent. However, the impact of silent brain injury on neurologic outcome and mortality remains unclear. Standardized neurologic monitoring and surveillance are recommended to better detect these clinically silent brain injury.
- brain injury
- hypoxic ischemic brain injury
- silent brain injury
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biomedical Engineering