Passive control of a bi-ventricular assist device : an experimental and numerical investigation

Gaddum, Nicholas Richard (2008) Passive control of a bi-ventricular assist device : an experimental and numerical investigation. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


For the last two decades heart disease has been the highest single cause of death for the human population. With an alarming number of patients requiring heart transplant, and donations not able to satisfy the demand, treatment looks to mechanical alternatives. Rotary Ventricular Assist Devices, VADs, are miniature pumps which can be implanted alongside the heart to assist its pumping function. These constant flow devices are smaller, more efficient and promise a longer operational life than more traditional pulsatile VADs. The development of rotary VADs has focused on single pumps assisting the left ventricle only to supply blood for the body. In many patients however, failure of both ventricles demands that an additional pulsatile device be used to support the failing right ventricle. This condition renders them hospital bound while they wait for an unlikely heart donation. Reported attempts to use two rotary pumps to support both ventricles concurrently have warned of inherent haemodynamic instability. Poor balancing of the pumps’ flow rates quickly leads to vascular congestion increasing the risk of oedema and ventricular ‘suckdown’ occluding the inlet to the pump. This thesis introduces a novel Bi-Ventricular Assist Device (BiVAD) configuration where the pump outputs are passively balanced by vascular pressure. The BiVAD consists of two rotary pumps straddling the mechanical passive controller. Fluctuations in vascular pressure induce small deflections within both pumps adjusting their outputs allowing them to maintain arterial pressure. To optimise the passive controller’s interaction with the circulation, the controller’s dynamic response is optimised with a spring, mass, damper arrangement. This two part study presents a comprehensive assessment of the prototype’s ‘viability’ as a support device. Its ‘viability’ was considered based on its sensitivity to pathogenic haemodynamics and the ability of the passive response to maintain healthy circulation. The first part of the study is an experimental investigation where a prototype device was designed and built, and then tested in a pulsatile mock circulation loop. The BiVAD was subjected to a range of haemodynamic imbalances as well as a dynamic analysis to assess the functionality of the mechanical damper. The second part introduces the development of a numerical program to simulate human circulation supported by the passively controlled BiVAD. Both investigations showed that the prototype was able to mimic the native baroreceptor response. Simulating hypertension, poor flow balancing and subsequent ventricular failure during BiVAD support allowed the passive controller’s response to be assessed. Triggered by the resulting pressure imbalance, the controller responded by passively adjusting the VAD outputs in order to maintain healthy arterial pressures. This baroreceptor-like response demonstrated the inherent stability of the auto regulating BiVAD prototype. Simulating pulmonary hypertension in the more observable numerical model, however, revealed a serious issue with the passive response. The subsequent decrease in venous return into the left heart went unnoticed by the passive controller. Meanwhile the coupled nature of the passive response not only decreased RVAD output to reduce pulmonary arterial pressure, but it also increased LVAD output. Consequently, the LVAD increased fluid evacuation from the left ventricle, LV, and so actually accelerated the onset of LV collapse. It was concluded that despite the inherently stable baroreceptor-like response of the passive controller, its lack of sensitivity to venous return made it unviable in its present configuration. The study revealed a number of other important findings. Perhaps the most significant was that the reduced pulse experienced during constant flow support unbalanced the ratio of effective resistances of both vascular circuits. Even during steady rotary support therefore, the resulting ventricle volume imbalance increased the likelihood of suckdown. Additionally, mechanical damping of the passive controller’s response successfully filtered out pressure fluctuations from residual ventricular function. Finally, the importance of recognising inertial contributions to blood flow in the atria and ventricles in a numerical simulation were highlighted. This thesis documents the first attempt to create a fully auto regulated rotary cardiac assist device. Initial results encourage development of an inlet configuration sensitive to low flow such as collapsible inlet cannulae. Combining this with the existing baroreceptor-like response of the passive controller will render a highly stable passively controlled BiVAD configuration. The prototype controller’s passive interaction with the vasculature is a significant step towards a highly stable new generation of artificial heart.

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ID Code: 26936
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Pearcy, Mark, Chadwick, Gary, & Mcneill, Keith
Keywords: passive control, bi-ventricular assist device, baroreceptor response, venous return, numerical simulation, rotary pump design
Divisions: Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 21 Aug 2009 05:49
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2011 19:53

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