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Looking Forward to San Diego: 1st Core Competency Course on Pediatric MCS

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Martin Schweiger, MD
Children's Hospital Zurich
Zurich, Switzerland

While the cold and icy winter has us firmly in its grip, we are looking forward to the warm and sunny San Diego, where the annual scientific meeting will take place. Besides the weather, there are some other good reasons to be excited about the upcoming conference. Especially the pediatric community caring for congenital heart disease (CHD) patients supported by mechanical circulatory support (MCS) can rejoice. The proportion of children bridged to transplantation with MCS has been steadily increasing over the past years, reaching 38% of all pediatric heart transplant recipients. Accompanying this is an increased use of ventricular assist devices (VAD) and total artificial hearts (TAH). The armamentarium of VAD options for adults has expanded drastically over the last decade and the pediatric population has benefited greatly by the surge in device development, with increased miniaturization of device design allowing for implantation in smaller patients. Nevertheless, there are huge differences between adult patients supported with VAD and children and adults suffering from CHD and needing MCS. Therefore, for the first time ever, there will be a core competency course on pediatric MCS.

Angela Lorts and Holger Buchholz chair this ISHLT academy, which is scheduled for April 4, 2017 from 7.45 a.m. to 5.15 p.m. Care providers of all experience levels, who are working in this growing field with a huge amount of unique challenges, are welcome to join.

Led by the two chairs, the program committee and many involved in the field of pediatric MCS have put together a very interesting program. Of course, the indications and use of pulsatile VADs-namely the Berlin Heart EXCOR®, which is the mainstay of support for children of all ages-will be discussed. Temporary device options as well as data on durable centrifugal flow devices initially designed for adults and increasingly used in adolescents and small children will be presented. Surgical implantation techniques and considerations will be presented by well-known surgeons in the field. Important aspects of peri- and postoperative management will be given some attention. There will be an own session focusing on hematologic management, including complications especially on thromboembolic events. Children on durable VAD support can be discharged home and may resume regular activities of daily living. However, compared to adults, this topic is in its infancy. Hence, an independent session on how to start a pediatric VAD program and how to send the kids home is part of the program. Also part of the program will be sensitive topics like destination therapy and palliative care. Case reports will boost discussions among the participants. The goal is to learn from didactics but also allow for discussion in order to share experiences and learn from each other as the numbers at each centre are small.

The fact that there will be sessions on not only pediatrics but also adult patients suffering from CHD in need of MCS might also attract some of the adult MCS community and round off this excellent program.

I am looking forward to meeting so many experts and friends at this special core competency course. I wish to express my gratitude to those who invested so much effort in this for finally having a core competency course on pediatric MCS. ■

Disclosure Statement: The author has no conflicts of interest to disclose.

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