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Introduction: Capsule endoscopy (CE) is mainstream in the evaluation of obscure gastrointestinal bleeding (GIB) in the general population. However, the diagnostic and therapeutic impact of CE in LVAD patients susceptible to transient bleeding remains largely unexplored. This study aimed to assess the benefits of CE in the evaluation of LVAD associated GIB.

Methods: Retrospective review of patients implanted with a continuous flow LVAD who underwent inpatient capsule endoscopy (CE) between January 2014 and May 2017 at our center. Identification of lesions with high bleeding potential or presence of frank blood were considered abnormal findings on CE study.

Result: Twenty-five inpatients who underwent 41 CE were identified. All patients presented with GIB and had preceding negative upper endoscopy and colonoscopy in the past 4 weeks. On the first capsule in each patient, 19 had interpretable images, abnormal findings were detected in 5 patients (high risk lesion in 3, frank blood in 2), four of these underwent an enteroscopy and only 2 (8%) patients had confirmation of the capsule findings with APC treatment (true positive). Excluding patients with malfunction, LVAD interference and poor bowel prep, 14 patients had negative/equivocal CE, of which 4 underwent enteroscopy due to continued bleeding and 2 of these patients had treatable culprit lesions (false negative). A total of 17 (68%) patients were discharged without any therapeutic intervention irrespective of the success or findings on CE due to clinical stabilization. Twenty patients (80%) had recurrence in a mean 154 days.

As expected, repeat capsules in the same admission increased the diagnostic yield (p=0.031)

Only nine patients (36%) had capsule-image evidence of reaching the cecum while 4 patients (16%) had retention which had to be retrieved without further complication.

Conclusion: This study demonstrated that evaluation of GIB with CE is feasible and safe but was associated with a low diagnostic yield and low conversion to therapeutic intervention. With a true positive yield of 4% in our cohort, the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of CE in the LVAD population is debatable. The role of CE in LVAD patients may need to be reevaluated.

An identification of patients who would benefit from a capsule-first approach would allow optimum utilization of resources and reduce healthcare expenditure.



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