Researchers at the Vienna University of Technology (Technische Universität Wien) have developed a prototype pneumatic ventricular assist pump that is almost small enough to be delivered percutaneously via a catheter. The current model is only about 10 mm wide and 90 mm long, which means that a clinically useful device would have to be half the size. The development of the new device was commissioned by Werner Mohl, a clinical professor of cardiac surgery at TU Vienna.
“The aim was to avoid the development of heat which is caused by heart pumps that are driven by an electric motor. The heat which is produced is transferred to the blood. Professor Mohl approached us with a request to construct a pump with pneumatic air propulsion which doesn’t have to be cooled”, explains project manager and associate professor Margit Gföhler from the Institute for Engineering Design and Logistics Engineering at the TU Vienna.
Assistant professor and project colleague Helmut Mad adds: “The heart catheter pump is intended for temporary bridging after an operation or after a heart attack. It is supposed to be used for a maximum of five to ten days. The pump is powered with compressed air via a tube. Of course, the blood which is transported is hermetically separated from the compressed air. The target capacity should be five litres per minute.” With its technical benchmark data, the heart catheter pump is a very challenging activity from a construction point of view. Gföhler: “Given its size, it is difficult to obtain purchased parts and storage” Special manufacturing and production processes which can be very expensive are required."
A second prototype has now been produced from a ceramic in collaboration with the Institute of Materials Science and Technology of the TU Vienna.
Technische Universität Wien press statement: Heart pump with air propulsion…
Video below the fold demonstrating the pump in action: