During VAD surgery, your heart surgeon will place cannulae that are special tubes made of a very soft silicone material. These soft cannulae will come out of your lower chest area just below your breastbone.
Your heart has two pumping chambers, a left ventricle and a right ventricle. Your cardiologist and surgeon will decide if you need support on just one ventricle or both. If you only need support for one ventricle, you will have two cannulae. If you need support for both ventricles, you will need four cannulae.
The soft cannulae connect to a blood pump that is chosen especially for you. This blood pump is hand-crafted by scientists and engineers to provide adequate blood flow to your entire body. It’s like a little heart that is outside of your body.
Your blood pump has another tube connected to it where air will move in and out of it. But don’t worry, the air will not go into your body. Instead the air helps the blood pump to fill and push blood out just like a real heart can.
The IKUS is an air compressor that helps move air in and out of your blood pump, helping it fill and eject. Your Berlin Heart makes a humming sound, which is normal. A computer sits on top of the IKUS and allows doctors to adjust the settings of your Berlin Heart. There are several settings your care team may adjust, like the air pressure strength, how often the air pressure moves in and out, and how many times your Berlin Heart pumps.