Design, development and evaluation of centrifugal ventricular assist devices

Timms, Daniel Lee (2005) Design, development and evaluation of centrifugal ventricular assist devices. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


Heart disease is the developed world's biggest killer, and the shortage of donor hearts has accelerated the development of mechanical alternatives.

Scientists, engineers and clinicians have attempted to replicate the human heart with a mechanical device for over 50 years. Although a number of pulsating devices have been developed, and in some cases worked briefly, they have invariably failed to match the success of heart transplantation.

In an attempt to produce a suitable alternative, current research is focused on devices that do not replace the heart; but rather work along side it to assist its function. Many of these devices help the failing left ventricle; however some patients require the additional implantation of a second device to assist a failing right ventricle. This increases implantation time and associated risk, and because of the size of the current devices, reduces the access of smaller patients to this vital technology.

The overall thesis objective focuses on the progressive design, development and preliminary evaluation of two novel centrifugal type ventricular assist devices, a bi-left ventricular device (Bi-LVAD) and a single bi-ventricular assist device (Bi-VAD). The devices have the respective capability to assist either the left ventricle, or both ventricles of a failing heart. The current concept for each VAD employs both magnetic and hydrodynamic suspension techniques to float a rotating double impeller, a technique that aims to reduce blood damage and component wear, two of the major problems encountered with current generation devices.

Each VAD design was developed by conducting experimentation and drawing conclusions from a variety of engineering research fields, such as flow visualization, rotary pump design and testing, fluid dynamics, hemodynamics and heart failure, and magnetic motor bearing design.

In order to evaluate pump prototype designs, it was necessary to design and develop a novel pulsatile systemic and pulmonary mock circulation loop capable of reproducing the hemodynamics of heart failure in the systemic and pulmonary circuits. The investigation then specifically examined the static hydraulic forces on the impeller of a centrifugal blood pump during operation in this mock circulation loop. The recorded magnitude and direction of radial and axial thrust then influenced the selection of magnetic and hydrodynamic bearing configurations to minimise impeller touchdown in the intended hemodynamic environment. This research required the development of correctly designed impeller (semi-open/closed) and volute (single, double, circular) components for each ventricular assist application and a unique test facility to isolate impeller hydraulic forces in addition to the mock circulation loop.

The proposed Bi-LVAD incorporates symmetrical blade designs on each side of the double sided impeller. The device assists the function of the left ventricle only with symmetrical axial pressure distribution and elimination of stagnant regions beneath the impeller. These features improve axial touchdown capacity and reduce thrombus formation respectively. The proposed Bi-VAD incorporates different blade designs on each side of the double impeller to augment the function of both the left and right cardiac chambers. The design has the additional potential to act as a total artificial heart (TAH). To date there is no Bi-VAD/TAH system available that incorporates an LVAD and RVAD in one rotary pump.

Successful development of each innovative VAD will provide an alternative to heart transplantation, potentially saving lives of many terminal heart patients each year. No longer would heart transplant candidates need to wait for the untimely death of a donor to provide a suitable heart. Instead, this new generation device would be available immediately, and be almost universally compatible with all patients. It has the potential to dramatically increase a patient’s expected lifetime, and to deliver them a higher quality of life.

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ID Code: 16917
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Tan, Chit & Pearcy, Mark
Keywords: left-right-bi-ventricular assist device, mock circulation loop, centrifugal pump design, impeller hydraulic force and performance
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Built Environment and Engineering
Past > Schools > School of Engineering Systems
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 15 Dec 2008 02:49
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2011 19:51

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