Our ventricular assist device uses a valveless volumetric pump operating on the Maillard-Wankel rotary principle. It is driven by an electric motor and provides a semi pulsatile flow. At each cycle, blood is actively aspirated into the device, and overpumping results in collapse at the pump inlet. To prevent overpumping, it is necessary to ensure that pump intake does not exceed venous return. Poor long-term reliability rules out the use of current implantable pressure sensors for this purpose. To resolve this problem, we have developed a method of control based on monitoring of the intensity of electric current consumed by the motor. The method consists of real time monitoring of current intensity at the beginning of each pump cycle. A sudden change in intensity indicates underfilling, and motor speed is reduced to prevent collapse. The current consumed by the motor also depends on the afterload, but the form of the signal remains the same when afterload changes. After demonstrating the feasibility of this technique in a simulator, we are now testing it in animals. We were able to detect and prevent collapse due to overpumping by the cardiac assist device. This system also enables us to know the maximum possible assistance and to thus adapt assistance to the user.
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