In vitro validation of a self-driving aortic-turbine venous-assist device for Fontan patients

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Background:Palliative repair of single ventricle defects involve a series of open-heart surgeries where a single-ventricle (Fontan) circulation is established. As the patient ages, this paradoxical circulation gradually fails, because of its high venous pressure levels. Reversal of the Fontan paradox requires an extra subpulmonic energy that can be provided through mechanical assist devices. The objective of this study was to evaluate the hemodynamic performance of a totally implantable integrated aortic-turbine venous-assist (iATVA) system, which does not need an external drive power and maintains low venous pressure chronically, for the Fontan circulation.Methods:Blade designs of the co-rotating turbine and pump impellers were developed and 3 prototypes were manufactured. After verifying the single-ventricle physiology at a pulsatile in vitro circuit, the hemodynamic performance of the iATVA system was measured for pediatric and adult physiology, varying the aortic steal percentage and circuit configurations. The iATVA system was also tested at clinical off-design scenarios.Results:The prototype iATVA devices operate at approximately 800 revolutions per minute and extract up to 10% systemic blood from the aorta to use this hydrodynamic energy to drive a blood turbine, which in turn drives a mixed-flow venous pump passively. By transferring part of the available energy from the single-ventricle outlet to the venous side, the iATVA system is able to generate up to approximately 5 mm Hg venous recovery while supplying the entire caval flow.Conclusions:Our experiments show that a totally implantable iATVA system is feasible, which will eliminate the need for external power for Fontan mechanical venous assist and combat gradual postoperative venous remodeling and Fontan failure.

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