Kids Health Info

VAD - some terms you may hear

  • These are some common word or terms you may hear while you are on the heart (cardiology) ward. It is helpful to get to know these words so that you can better understand what people are telling you. These terms are specifically for children with a Thoratec or Berlin Heart Ventricular Assist Device (VAD). If you're not sure of any of these terms, ask your nurse or doctor to explain what they mean.

    Anti-coagulants - medicines used to prevent the blood from clotting. These include aspirin, warfarin, dipyridamole and clopidogrel.

    Aorta - the largest artery in the heart. The aorta sends blood full of oxygen around the body.

    APTT (Activated Partial Thromboplastin Time) - a blood test used to monitor how well heparin therapy is working.

    Arterial Blood Gas (ABG) - A blood test taken from an artery to measure the levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood. (Most blood tests use blood taken from a vein).

    Cannula - A plastic tube that is placed between the heart and the VAD under the skin.

    Cardiologist - A doctor who specialises in caring for people with heart conditions, including children needing a heart transplant.

    Cardiac surgeon - A specialist doctor who does operations on the heart, including implanting the VAD device and heart transplants.

    Chest drain - A tube that sits in the space between the lung and chest wall to let fluid, air or blood out into a suction chamber that hangs on the bed side.

    Coag (short for coagulation) - A blood test to find out how well the blood is clotting. 

    Dual Drive Console - A large machine used to pump the Thoratec VAD after implantation.

    Echo (short for Echocardiogram)- An ultrasound of the heart.

    Halls Effect Switch - A switch on top of the VAD that senses when the VAD is full (65ml). When the VAD is full the blood is ready to be pumped out of the VAD and into the aorta or pulmonary artery (depending on which side of the heart the VAD is supporting).

    Halls Effect Cable - A cable that sends information back to the machine or VAD driver telling it that the VAD is full (65ml) and the blood is ready to be pumped from the VAD to the aorta or pulmonary artery (depending on which side of the heart the VAD is supporting)..

    Hand Pump - A pump that is used manually if the machine fails. 

    Heparin - An intravenous (IV) drug to prevent the blood from clotting.

    Holster belt - A belt to carry the VAD to relieve some of the weight and prevent the device from moving about.The belt is fitted for each person.

    Ikus Driving Unit- the driver that is used to power the Berlin Heart VAD.

    Inotropes- Medicines that help the heart beat more strongly.

    INR(short for International Normalized Ratio) - A blood test to check the clotting time of blood for people taking warfarin.

    Intracranial haemorrhage - A bleed on the inside of the skull or in the brain.

    Perfusionist - A technical specialist who cares for the heart and lung bypass machinery.

    Pneumatic lead - A hose like cable that provides positive pressure to get the blood out of the VAD and into the aorta, and negative pressure (vacuum) to get the blood from the atrium/ventricle into the VAD.

    Pulmonary artery - pulmonary arteries carry blood from the heart to the lungs.

    TLC-II - A lightweight portable Thoratec VAD driver used for patients who are moving about.

    Also see factsheet: Ventricular Assist Device (VAD)

    Write your own words here:


    Developed by the RCH Cardiology Department.  First published April 2007. Updated October 2010.

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