Aortic Balloon Pump

Balloon 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.

This 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.

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