pumps are used in the aorta to aid the left ventricle:
in an acute
situation, a intra-aortic balloon pump (IABP) may be used to maintain blood flow
following cardiac surgery when the left ventricle is to weak to deliver the
blood-flow needed. Here an intra-aortic
balloon pump will be used as it is rapidly deployable on the end of a cannula usually via the femoral artery – the patient must
remain in bed so as not to damage the cannula.
in a chronic
situation, an intra-aortic balloon pump cannot be used as they are too occlusive
of blood flowing in the aorta, and an extra-aortic balloon pumps (EABP) is
used. These devices act on the outer
wall of the aorta inflating and deflating in anti-phase with the ventricle so as
to drive a displaced volume of blood along the aorta. This has the effect of improving perfusion of
the coronary arteries and of relaxing the ventricle muscles so they can de-model
to a more normal size.
research is developing a device which is a little different from either the IABP
or EABP in that it will not act on the outer wall of the aorta, thus reducing
the likelihood of plaque formation and damage, yet will be able to be used
chronically – even turned off when not needed and thus used intermittently as
and when the patient requires ‘a boost’.
Research is focused both on developing the device itself (implantables + controller) and also on the surgical and
clinical protocols for a rather unique therapy.
The disciplines involved in the research include mechanical and
electronic engineering, product design, perfusion and surgery.