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Fluid Dynamics in the HeartMate 3: Influence of the Artificial Pulse Feature and Residual Cardiac Pulsation

Ventricular assist devices (VADs), among which the HeartMate 3 (HM3) is the latest clinically approved representative, are often the therapy of choice for patients with end‐stage heart failure. Despite advances in the prevention of pump thrombosis, rates of stroke and bleeding remain high. These complications are attributed to the flow field within the VAD, among other factors. One of the HM3’s characteristic features is an artificial pulse that changes the rotor speed periodically by 4000 rpm, which is meant to reduce zones of recirculation and stasis. In this study, we investigated the effect of this speed modulation on the flow fields and stresses using high‐resolution computational fluid dynamics. To this end, we compared Eulerian and Lagrangian features of the flow fields during constant pump operation, during operation with the artificial pulse feature, and with the effect of the residual native cardiac cycle. We observed good washout in all investigated situations, which may explain the low incidence rates of pump thrombosis. The artificial pulse had no additional benefit on scalar washout performance, but it induced rapid variations in the flow velocity and its gradients. This may be relevant for the removal of deposits in the pump. Overall, we found that viscous stresses in the HM3 were lower than in other current VADs. However, the artificial pulse substantially increased turbulence, and thereby also total stresses, which may contribute to clinically observed issues related to hemocompatibility.

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L. Wiegmann, B. Thamsen, D. de Zélicourt, M. Granegger, S. Boës, M. Schmid Daners, M. Meboldt, V. Kurtcuoglu. Artificial Organs, [Epub ahead of print], (2018). doi: 10.1111/aor.13346