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Gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding is a common complication seen in patients with implanted continuous flow left ventricular assist devices (CF-LVAD), often attributed to arteriovenous malformations (AVMs). Whether thalidomide reduces recurrent GI bleeding risk in CF-LVAD patients has been incompletely evaluated. We conducted a retrospective review of all CF-LVAD patients at our institution with GI bleeding from AVMs who had a trial both off and on thalidomide. The primary endpoint was time to rebleed, while secondary endpoints included overall GI bleeding events, packed red blood cell (PRBC) transfusion requirements, and adverse events related to thalidomide. We report on 24 patients with recurrent AVM-associated GI bleeding who met criteria for and received thalidomide therapy, of which 17 had sufficient follow-up to be ultimately included for final analysis. We found the risk of rebleeding was significantly reduced in those on thalidomide therapy versus off (hazard ratio = 0.23, p = 0.022). The median number of GI bleeds per year was reduced from 4.6 to 0.4 (p = 0.0008) and the PRBC requirement was lower (36.1 vs. 0.9 units per year, p = 0.004) in those on thalidomide therapy. The adverse event rate with thalidomide was 59%, with symptoms resolution in most following dose reduction without increased bleeding. Thalidomide reduced the risk of AVM-associated GI rebleeding, number of bleeding events, and PRBC requirements in CF-LVAD patients. When initiating therapy, potential side effects and overall clinical context should be considered.


Parhum Namdaran, Thomas A Zikos, Jennifer Y Pan, Dipanjan Banerjee. Thalidomide Use Reduces Risk of Refractory Gastrointestinal Bleeding in Patients with Continuous Flow Left Ventricular Assist Devices. ASAIO journal (American Society for Artificial Internal Organs : 1992). 2020 Jun;66(6):645-651

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PMID: 31425265

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