Physiological Characterization of the SynCardia Total Artificial Heart in a Mock Circulation System

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Abstract

The SynCardia total artificial heart (TAH) has emerged as an effective, life-saving biventricular replacement system for a wide variety of patients with end-stage heart failure. Although the clinical performance of the TAH is established, modern physiological characterization, in terms of elastance behavior and pressure–volume (PV) characterization has not been defined. Herein, we examine the TAH in terms of elastance using a nonejecting left ventricle, and then characterize the PV relation of the TAH by varying preload and afterload parameters using a Donovan Mock Circulatory System. We demonstrate that the TAH does not operate with time-varying elastance, differing from the human heart. Furthermore, we show that the TAH has a PV relation behavior that also differs from that of the human heart. The TAH does exhibit Starling-like behavior, with output increasing via preload-dependent mechanisms, without reliance on an alteration of inotropic state within the operating window of the TAH. Within our testing range, the TAH is insensitive to variations in afterload; however, this insensitivity has a limit, the limit being the maximum driving pressure of the pneumatic driver. Understanding the physiology of the TAH affords insight into the functional parameters that govern artificial heart behavior providing perspective on differences compared with the human heart.

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