Current implanted heart assist devices function by sucking blood from the ventricles and then expelling it into downstream vessels. Whilst these have been successful in prolonging the lives of heart patients, they come into contact with the blood stream and hence require life-long drug therapy to suppress the immune system and prevent blood clotting. In addition, many of these devices use high speed turbines to produce the pumping force, and this has been proven to cause damage to cells within the blood increasing the chance of clots forming.
The ingenious device being developed by engineers at the University of Leeds provides a less invasive alternative. The team has developed a specially-woven web made from biocompatible material which will not be rejected by the body.
The webbing wraps around the heart and therefore does not come into contact with the blood stream. Inbuilt sensors recognise when the heart wants to beat and trigger a series of miniature motors which cause the web to contract – increasing the internal pressure and assisting the heart to pump the blood around the body.
The team consists of Drs Peter Walker (who devised the original concept) and Martin Levesley from the University’s School of Mechanical Engineering, cardiac consultants Kevin Watterson and Osama Jaber from Leeds General Infirmary and engineering PhD student David Keeling. The research has been funded by Leeds-based medical charity Heart Research UK.
“It’s a really simple concept that works in the same way as when you squeeze a plastic bottle, forcing the liquid inside to rise,” says PhD student David Keeling who has built a special rig to test the device.
The device is currently at prototype stage with team using a computer simulated model of the human blood flow circuit coupled to David’s mechanical rig. The rig replicates the motion of the heart within the simulation under different conditions, and allows the team to test their web device. The group is currently testing their latest prototype, aiming to refine design and assist strategies. Says David: “We’ve been looking at finding the optimum timing to trigger and also length of the compressive squeeze.”
Once the mechanics have been perfected, the team intends to simulate the effects of different heart diseases to gauge the potential success of the device.
Potential uses for the device are huge. As well as offering support to people suffering from heart and valve problems, the device could also be a bridging aid to patients as they wait for transplants, providing them with a better quality of life. Says David: “Recent research has found that with some heart diseases, supporting the heart for a short period with an assistive device reduces the work-load on the heart and allows it to rest and recover. Our device also allows for a controlled relaxation of the heart muscle after contraction, which means that it’s being supported throughout the whole heartbeat process. It’s the same as when you pull a muscle in any other part of your body, rest can often be the best therapy.”
Jo Kelly | alfa
Blood biopsy: New technique enables detailed genetic analysis of cancer cells
16.05.2019 | University of Michigan
Detecting dementia's damaging effects before it's too late
14.05.2019 | University of Arizona
Engineers at the University of Tokyo continually pioneer new ways to improve battery technology. Professor Atsuo Yamada and his team recently developed a...
With a quantum coprocessor in the cloud, physicists from Innsbruck, Austria, open the door to the simulation of previously unsolvable problems in chemistry, materials research or high-energy physics. The research groups led by Rainer Blatt and Peter Zoller report in the journal Nature how they simulated particle physics phenomena on 20 quantum bits and how the quantum simulator self-verified the result for the first time.
Many scientists are currently working on investigating how quantum advantage can be exploited on hardware already available today. Three years ago, physicists...
'Quantum technologies' utilise the unique phenomena of quantum superposition and entanglement to encode and process information, with potentially profound benefits to a wide range of information technologies from communications to sensing and computing.
However a major challenge in developing these technologies is that the quantum phenomena are very fragile, and only a handful of physical systems have been...
Working group led by physicist Professor Ulrich Nowak at the University of Konstanz, in collaboration with a team of physicists from Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, demonstrates how skyrmions can be used for the computer concepts of the future
When it comes to performing a calculation destined to arrive at an exact result, humans are hopelessly inferior to the computer. In other areas, humans are...
Scientists develop a molecular recording tool that enables in vivo lineage tracing of embryonic cells
The beginning of new life starts with a fascinating process: A single cell gives rise to progenitor cells that eventually differentiate into the three germ...
29.04.2019 | Event News
17.04.2019 | Event News
15.04.2019 | Event News
20.05.2019 | Materials Sciences
20.05.2019 | Life Sciences
20.05.2019 | Power and Electrical Engineering