A Review of Leakage Flow in Centrifugal Blood Pumps

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This article presents a new approach in determining the functional relationship between the leakage flow in a centrifugal blood pump and various parameters that affect it. While high leakage flow in a blood pump is essential for good washout and can help prevent thrombus formation, excessive leakage flow will result in higher fluid shear stress that may lead to hemolysis. Dimensional analysis is employed to provide a functional relationship between leakage flow rate and other important parameters governing the operation of a centrifugal blood pump. Results showed that pump performance with a smaller gap clearance is clearly superior compared to those of two other similar pumps with larger gap clearances. It was also observed that the nondimensional leakage flow rate varies almost linearly with dimensionless pump head. It also decreases with increasing volume flow rate. A smaller gap clearance will also increase the flow resistance and hence, decrease the nondimensional leakage flow rate. Increasing surface roughness, length of the gap clearance passage, or loss coefficient of the gap geometry will increase losses and hence, decrease the leakage flow rate. It is also interesting to note that for a given pump and gap clearance geometry, the nondimensional leakage flow rate is almost independent of the Reynolds number when specific speed is constant.

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