3D-Printed pump maintains diseased hearts beating in time

If you have serious heart failure your options can be very limited as you need to have a heart transplant or a bedside system to keep your heart pumping. Fortunately, a new 3D-printed, battery-operated implant would make people perform their day-to-day activities while they wait for a transplant.


Basically, the device, for which a patent has been filed, developed by Philip Breedon and his colleagues at Nottingham Trent University in the UK, creates a counter blood-flow by ‘beating’ out of phase with the diseased heart. When the heart fills with blood, the woven tube would contract to increase pressure in the heart. When the heart then pumps oxygenated blood around the body, the tube would expand to release the pressure and increase the blood flow.


Dr Philip Breedon said:


 “This device could really be ground-breaking and more effective than any other therapy currently being used around the world. Chronic heart failure is a major health challenge and up to 40 per cent of sufferers die within the first year. The best form of treatment is a heart transplant, but the demand by far outweighs the supply as around 160,000 people require one in Europe each year, but only 600 donor hearts are available. The technology currently used to help people with acute heart failure can only be used for a few days and involves the patient being attached to large external machines which need to be plugged into the mains power supply. The smart aortic graft has the potential to not only extend a patient’s life, but also to provide them with mobility, comfort and a reduced need for carers.”


Associate professor David Richens, consultant cardiac surgeon at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, said:


“The smart aortic graft is a unique, cutting edge solution to a global health problem and promises to be cheaper and better than current devices. The cost of heart failure in the UK alone is £625 million a year and, according to the World Heart Failure Society, incidences of heart failure are steadily rising around the globe. The smart aortic graft would revolutionise the way people are treated and the technologies which underpin the design have the potential to transform the treatment of other diseases, such as Esophageal Achalasia. Designs such as this are revealing the true potential of smart materials in medical product design. This technology really could be the start of a new beginning in the way we use equipment to help save people’s lives.”


The Nottingham University Hospitals Innovation supports the project and relating to the device are set to go on show for Nottingham Trent University’s Art and Design Postgraduate Expo 2013 this month.


Source: NewScientist.

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