Medi-Materials’ Freedom Undervest is an undergarment that offers LVAD recipients who are fed up with their VAD bags or fanny packs the opportunity to live hands and worry free. But the Freedom Undervest was originally conceived as a means to reduce THE RISK OF DRIVELINE INFECTIONS.

Last year, when we introduced our Protex DL Driveline protector, many people were excited that there was now something available that could help prevent damage to the driveline. When showing the Protex DL to the team of a well known advanced heart failure clinic in Virginia, one of the Nurse Practitioners said to me, “This is great, John! But what we also really need is something that would deal with driveline infections.” We immediately began to work on the problem.

What Are Driveline Infections?

A driveline infection (DLI) is defined as an infection that affects the soft tissue around the driveline exit site. These infections usually present with unusual warmth, redness (erythema) and a purulent discharge. Since the driveline exit site offers an entry point into the body for bacteria, other more severe LVAD related infections may occur. Early detection is critical, as these infections, left untreated, may lead to lengthy hospitalization, re-operation, increased risk of stroke, and potential delays in transplantation.

Driveline infections do not typically manifest within the first 30 days of implantation (only about 15%), but the risk of driveline infection is known to increase the longer the recipient requires the therapy. In other words, the likelihood of acquiring a driveline infection INCREASES the longer you have your LVAD. This is particularly important for destination Therapy (DT) LVAD recipients.

How Does the Freedom Undervest Help?

In a recent peer reviewed article in the Open Journal of Cardiovascular surgery the authors explain, “The more rigid or thicker the driveline is, the higher is the risk of infection. In addition, the weight of the controller and battery increases tension and trauma to the exit site … Trauma caused by the driveline mobility is one of the attributable factors for risk of infection due to exit site injury” (See full article here). Essentially, the daily movement of the driveline at the exit site causes trauma to the tissue in that area: making it more susceptible to infection. The use of adhesive anchors on the skin is meant to minimize this movement, but many people find the adhesives on the anchor irritating and damaging to the skin. Some are even allergic to it.

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Wearing Medi-Materials’ LVAD vest may help reduce the risk of driveline infections in LVAD recipients by:

  • Immobilizing the driveline at the wound site: minimizing movement at the exit site which reduces trauma to the soft tissue.
  • Evenly distributing the weight of the external LVAD equipment without applying tension to the driveline, and Eliminating the need for adhesive anchors while the Undervest is worn.

For more information about driveline infections, visit our research page, here.