LVAD Pulsatility Assesses Cardiac Contractility: In Vitro Model Utilizing the Total Artificial Heart and Mock Circulation

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There is a need for a consistent, reproducible, and cost-effective method of determining cardiac recovery in patients who receive emerging novel therapeutics for advanced and end-stage heart failure (HF). With the increasing use of ventricular assist devices (VADs) in end-stage HF, objective device diagnostics are available for analysis. Pulsatility, one of the accessible diagnostic measures, is a variable gage of the differential between peak systolic and minimum diastolic flow during a single cardiac cycle. Following implantation of the VAD, HeartWare’s HVAD records pulsatility regularly. Thus, we hypothesize that this measurement relates to the contractility of the heart and could be utilized as a metric for determining patient response to various therapeutics. In this study, therefore, we develop a translatable and effective predictive model characterizing pulsatility to determine HF status and potential HF recovery using the SynCardia Total Artificial Heart (TAH) in conjunction with a Donovan Mock Circulation System to create a simulation platform for the collection of pulsatility data. We set the simulation platform to patient conditions ranging from critical heart failure to a normal operating condition through the variation preload, afterload, and left ventricular (LV) pumping force or TAH “contractility.” By manipulating these variables, pulsatility was found to accurately indicate significant (p < 0.05) improvements in LV contractility at every recorded afterload and preload, suggesting that it is a valuable parameter for the assessment of cardiac recovery in patients.

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