Characterization of an Adult Mock Circulation for Testing Cardiac Support Devices

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A need exists for a mock circulation that behaves in a physiologic manner for testing cardiac devices in normal and pathologic states. To address this need, an integrated mock cardiovascular system consisting of an atrium, ventricle, and systemic and coronary vasculature was developed specifically for testing ventricular assist devices (VADs). This test configuration enables atrial or ventricular apex inflow and aortic outflow cannulation connections. The objective of this study was to assess the ability of the mock ventricle to mimic the Frank–Starling response of normal, heart failure, and cardiac recovery conditions. The pressure–volume relationship of the mock ventricle was evaluated by varying ventricular volume over a wide range via atrial (preload) and aortic (afterload) occlusions. The input impedance of the mock vasculature was calculated using aortic pressure and flow measurements and also was used to estimate resistance, compliance, and inertial mechanical properties of the circulatory system. Results demonstrated that the mock ventricle pressure–volume loops and the end diastolic and end systolic pressure–volume relationships are representative of the Starling characteristics of the natural heart for each of the test conditions. The mock vasculature can be configured to mimic the input impedance and mechanical properties of native vasculature in the normal state. Although mock circulation testing systems cannot replace in vivo models, this configuration should be well suited for developing experimental protocols, testing device feedback control algorithms, investigating flow profiles, and training surgical staff on the operational procedures of cardiovascular devices.

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