Ventricular Assist Device (VAD) Program (Center for Circulatory Support)

For patients with severe chronic or acute heart failure, conventional treatments may not be adequate to relieve the effects of heart failure. For these patients, mechanical circulatory support can offer a gateway to better long-term quality of life, or a bridge that can lead to a heart transplant.

The Center for Circulatory Support (CCS) at the University of Michigan offers one of the nation's most comprehensive programs in this area of treatment, giving patients access to a broad variety of state-of-the-art options of "circulatory support" devices and skilled post-implantation care.

Our internationally-recognized, multidisciplinary group of physicians and health professionals — including surgeons, cardiologists and advanced-practice nurses — combine their expertise to evaluate, treat and monitor the progress of both adult and pediatric patients with cardiac disorders that result in end-stage heart failure or cardiogenic shock (when the heart is unable to pump as much blood as the body needs).

We are a regional and national referral center for these patients with the goal of being the best and most comprehensive program for advanced technology of mechanical circulatory support therapy in the world.

The Gold Seal of Approval® 

The Center for Circulatory Support earned the Gold Seal of Approval® for health care quality on April 10, 2008, and was one of the first centers to be awarded Disease-Specific Care Certification for Advanced Ventricular Assist Devices by The Joint Commission. We were recertified in March 2016.

To earn this distinction, a disease management program undergoes an extensive, unannounced, on-site evaluation by a team of Joint Commission reviewers every two years.

Circulatory & Ventricular Assist Devices (VADs)

There are now a variety of devices capable of pumping blood to restore circulation of vital organs, even temporarily replacing the function of the native heart. Once the patient is stabilized, procedures such as bypass surgery, stent insertion, and/or medications can be offered to assist the injured heart to recover. If damage to the heart is beyond repair, patients can be considered for heart transplantation or implantation of more permanent heart replacement pumps that can allow individuals to lead active and productive lives.

The CCS is one of only a few programs worldwide with access to many investigational and FDA-approved ventricular assist devices (VADs) and left-ventricular assist devices (LVADs), which allows for the selection of the most appropriate device based on each patient's individual needs. As new devices become available, both in clinical trials and after federal approval, our patients are often the first to benefit from their use.

Our physicians are actively participating in several clinical trials evaluating new mechanical circulatory support devices in addition to developing new types of devices.

We have one of the largest VAD programs in the country. In 2011 we implanted 49 VADs and are following more than 100 patients as long-term outpatients.

For more information on cardiac clinical research opportunities involving ventricular assist devices and systems, please visit UM Clinical Studies.

Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO)

Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) is another focus of our team. Some patients may develop lung failure in addition to heart failure. Supplemental oxygen or even artificial respirators are often incapable of providing life sustaining oxygen or removing dangerous carbon dioxide when the lungs are severely affected. This is another form of life support that can stabilize these patients while the organs recover. ECMO involves inserting catheters into the large blood vessels of the neck or groin. Blood can then be pumped to circulate through membranes capable of transferring oxygen and carbon dioxide, similar to our own lungs. This blood circulates back into the body.

Patients can be supported on ECMO for days to weeks giving the heart and lungs time to recover or until an implantable replacement or transplant becomes available.

The University of Michigan has the largest ECMO experience in the world, and frequently hosts visitors from around the globe for education and training. Our team is capable of instituting ECMO within minutes or, under special circumstances, traveling to referring institutions to initiate ECMO for a safer transport to our center.

Make an Appointment

To be evaluated at the Center for Circulatory Support, call 888-287-1082 or email us at To find out more about what happens when you call, visit our Make an Appointment page.