History of the Kolff Laboratory Turbine Driven Electrohydraulic Artificial Heart

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The concept of an electrically powered total artificial heart has been pursued by Dr. Kolff and his associates since the 1960s. Since the 1980s these efforts have been concentrated upon the development of the electrohydraulic total artificial heart, a turbine pump powered by a brushless DC motor. Dr. Kolff realized the benefits of pulsatile flow and device response to Starling's Law, and these concepts have formed the basis of subsequent design decisions. Design iterations have both solved existing problems and exposed new challenges. The current device design is greatly improved over early attempts due to the incorporation of technologies that have recently become available as the result of progress in the fields of materials and electronics and due to the lessons learned over many years of research under the guidance of Dr. Kolff. This article describes, from its inception, the last major research project of Dr. Kolff prior to his retirement. The discussion centers around development, problems and their solutions, and the reasoning for given solutions.

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