Mechanical circulatory support costs in children bridged to heart transplantation — analysis of a linked database

Justin Godown, Andrew H. Smith, Cary Thurm, Matt Hall, Debra A. Dodd, Jonathan H. Soslow, Bret A. Mettler, David W. Bearl, Brian Feingold

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background: Pediatric mechanical circulatory support (MCS) has evolved considerably over the past decade. Though marked improvements in waitlist survival have been realized, costs have not been reassessed. This project aimed to assess contemporary MCS costs in children bridged to heart transplant (HT). Methods: All pediatric HT recipients (2002–2016) were identified from a unique, linked PHIS/SRTR dataset. Costs were calculated from hospital charges, inflated to 2016 Dollars and adjusted for patient-specific characteristics using generalized linear mixed-effects models. Costs and length of stay (LOS) were compared across support strategies at the time of HT (no MCS, VAD, or ECMO) with select subgroup analyses. Results: A total of 2873 pediatric HT recipients were included; no MCS: 2268 (78.9%), VAD: 470 (16.4%), and ECMO: 135 (4.7%). Both VAD and ECMO were associated with greater total hospitalization costs compared to no MCS ($755,345 and $808,771 vs. $457,086; P <.001). Total costs and LOS were similar between VAD and ECMO groups; however, costs and LOS were greatest for VAD-supported patients in the pre-HT period and greatest for ECMO-supported patients post-HT. Post-HT costs and LOS were similar between patients who did not require MCS and those supported with a VAD ($324,887 and 18 days vs. $329,198 and 18 days respectively, p = NS). Outpatients with VAD support at HT demonstrated significantly lower total costs compared to those who were inpatient with continuous flow devices ($552,222 vs. $663,071, P =.003). Conclusions: MCS as a bridge to HT in children is associated with greater total costs. While costs are similar between VAD and ECMO groups, the majority of costs associated with VAD support is incurred pre-HT while ECMO costs are incurred primarily post-HT. Discharging patients on VAD support awaiting HT may represent a strategy to reduce costs in this population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)77-85
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican heart journal
StatePublished - Jul 2018
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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