Inflow cannula design for biventricular assist devices

Gregory, Shaun David (2013) Inflow cannula design for biventricular assist devices. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


Cardiovascular diseases are a leading cause of death throughout the developed world. With the demand for donor hearts far exceeding the supply, a bridge-to-transplant or permanent solution is required. This is currently achieved with ventricular assist devices (VADs), which can be used to assist the left ventricle (LVAD), right ventricle (RVAD), or both ventricles simultaneously (BiVAD). Earlier generation VADs were large, volume-displacement devices designed for temporary support until a donor heart was found. The latest generation of VADs use rotary blood pump technology which improves device lifetime and the quality of life for end stage heart failure patients.

VADs are connected to the heart and greater vessels of the patient through specially designed tubes called cannulae. The inflow cannulae, which supply blood to the VAD, are usually attached to the left atrium or ventricle for LVAD support, and the right atrium or ventricle for RVAD support. Few studies have characterized the haemodynamic difference between the two cannulation sites, particularly with respect to rotary RVAD support. Inflow cannulae are usually made of metal or a semi-rigid polymer to prevent collapse with negative pressures. However suction, and subsequent collapse, of the cannulated heart chamber can be a frequent occurrence, particularly with the relatively preload insensitive rotary blood pumps. Suction events may be associated with endocardial damage, pump flow stoppages and ventricular arrhythmias. While several VAD control strategies are under development, these usually rely on potentially inaccurate sensors or somewhat unreliable inferred data to estimate preload. Fixation of the inflow cannula is usually achieved through suturing the cannula, often via a felt sewing ring, to the cannulated chamber. This technique extends the time on cardiopulmonary bypass which is associated with several postoperative complications.

The overall objective of this thesis was to improve the placement and design of rotary LVAD and RVAD inflow cannulae to achieve enhanced haemodynamic performance, reduced incidence of suction events, reduced levels of postoperative bleeding and a faster implantation procedure. Specific objectives were:

  • in-vitro evaluation of LVAD and RVAD inflow cannula placement,

  • design and in-vitro evaluation of a passive mechanism to reduce the potential for heart chamber suction,

  • design and in-vitro evaluation of a novel suture-less cannula fixation device.

In order to complete in-vitro evaluation of VAD inflow cannulae, a mock circulation loop (MCL) was developed to accurately replicate the haemodynamics in the human systemic and pulmonary circulations. Validation of the MCL’s haemodynamic performance, including the form and magnitude of pressure, flow and volume traces was completed through comparisons of patient data and the literature. The MCL was capable of reproducing almost any healthy or pathological condition, and provided a useful tool to evaluate VAD cannulation and other cardiovascular devices.

The MCL was used to evaluate inflow cannula placement for rotary VAD support. Left and right atrial and ventricular cannulation sites were evaluated under conditions of mild and severe heart failure. With a view to long term LVAD support in the severe left heart failure condition, left ventricular inflow cannulation was preferred due to improved LVAD efficiency and reduced potential for thrombus formation. In the mild left heart failure condition, left atrial cannulation was preferred to provide an improved platform for myocardial recovery. Similar trends were observed with RVAD support, however to a lesser degree due to a smaller difference in right atrial and ventricular pressures.

A compliant inflow cannula to prevent suction events was then developed and evaluated in the MCL. As rotary LVAD or RVAD preload was reduced, suction events occurred in all instances with a rigid inflow cannula. Addition of the compliant segment eliminated suction events in all instances. This was due to passive restriction of the compliant segment as preload dropped, thus increasing the VAD circuit resistance and decreasing the VAD flow rate. Therefore, the compliant inflow cannula acted as a passive flow control / anti-suction system in LVAD and RVAD support.

A novel suture-less inflow cannula fixation device was then developed to reduce implantation time and postoperative bleeding. The fixation device was evaluated for LVAD and RVAD support in cadaveric animal and human hearts attached to a MCL. LVAD inflow cannulation was achieved in under two minutes with the suture-less fixation device. No leakage through the suture-less fixation device – myocardial interface was noted. Continued development and in-vivo evaluation of this device may result in an improved inflow cannulation technique with the potential for off-bypass insertion.

Continued development of this research, in particular the compliant inflow cannula and suture-less inflow cannulation device, will result in improved postoperative outcomes, life span and quality of life for end-stage heart failure patients.

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ID Code: 61610
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Pearcy, Mark, Fraser, John F., & Timms, Daniel
Additional Information: A two year embargo from 10 January 2013 to 10 January 2015 has been granted by the university for this thesis.
Keywords: inflow cannula, cannula placement, suction event, physiological control, suture-less cannula fixation, left-right-bi-ventricular assist device, mock circulation loop, Frank Starling mechanism
Divisions: Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Science & Engineering Faculty
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 31 Jul 2013 02:50
Last Modified: 22 Jun 2017 14:46

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