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Why Flow Measurement is Integral to Ventricular Assist Device (VAD) Development

By Susan Eymann, MS02 Dec 2015

ventricular-assist-device.jpgTransonic history is providentially intertwined with the development of circulatory support and Ventricular Assist Devices. In 1971, Transonic founder Cornelius Drost was slated to join The Cleveland Clinic bioengineering department under Chairman Dr. Yukihiko Nose to work on projects that included development of centrifugal and axial blood pumps for cardiac assist. When grant funding fell through, Drost went to work at Cornell University to design a more reliable Doppler flowmeter to measure blood flow in conscious animals. The invention was a transit-time volume Flowmeter that would be used in the engineering and testing of almost every circulatory support device that followed.

Transit-time Technology Advantage

From the outset, Transonic transit-time ultrasound Flowmeters demonstrated distinct advantages over other technologies. The first tubing Flowsensors, developed in 1987, could readily measure volume flow of water, saline and blood analogs like glycerin and water solutions used to mimic the viscosity of blood and best assess pump design on the bench. For extracorporeal devices, clamp-on tubing Flowsensors had no contact with the fluid and would keep blood lines sterile. Perivascular probes could be implanted on native vessels in animal subjects for months to validate adequate blood distribution by the mechanical hearts. And ultimately, Flowprobes would be positioned on the artificial vessel outlet graft of the pumps to directly measure pump performance.

‘Who’s Who’ in Circulatory Support

The Cleveland Clinic was one of Transonic’s first heart-assist customers, with other notable centers that included the University of Utah Artificial Heart Lab; University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s McGowan Research Institute; Texas Heart Institute, Baylor College of Medicine; and their biomedical engineering icons Yukihiko Nose, Michael DeBakey, Robert Bartlett, O.H. Frazier, George Magovern Sr., Denton Cooley, Robert Jarvik, George Pantalos and Harvey Borovetz.

In the past two decades, ventricular-assist pump designs have evolved as projects have received corporate backing as an end-stage treatment for patients with failing hearts. Completing preclinical animal trials with Transonic research Perivascular Flowprobes, several devices have been permitted for clinical use as a “bridge to transplant.” As more companies race to clinical trial, Transonic Tubing Flowsensors are used to monitor pump performance round-the-clock in test racks for “Life Cycle Test” data required by the FDA.

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