World Heart Corporation (WorldHeart), an Oakland, CA company, has announced yesterday that the first human implant of its rotary ventricular assist device (VAD) took place on March 8, 2006. This marks the start of the feasibility clinical trial of WorldHeart’s next-generation rotary VAD. The surgery, called a “success” by the company, was performed at St. Luke’s Hospital, Thessaloniki, Greece.
About the technology:
The WorldHeart rotary VAD is the only bearingless, fully magnetically levitated implantable centrifugal rotary pump in clinical trials. It is an advanced, next-generation, continuous flow pump that uses magnetic levitation to fully suspend the spinning rotor, its only moving part, inside a compact housing. The pump’s proprietary levitation technology employs a combination of passive magnetic suspension and single-axis active control, which is expected to provide optimal system simplicity and reliability.
Unlike most rotary pumps currently in clinical trials, it does not rely on either a mechanical bearing or a film of blood (blood bearing) to support the rotor. Relative to pumps with blood or mechanical bearings, full magnetic levitation eliminates wear mechanisms within the pump and is expected to provide improved blood compatibility by allowing greater clearances and more favorable, obstruction-free, blood flow around the rotor.
To understand how the pump’s magnetic levitation (Mag-Lev™) technology works, go to the official page for HeartQuest™ VAD, and look through “How It Works”, “Operation” and “Pump/Drive Technology” sections for more info.