A prototype bench top model of a continuous flow ventricular assist device using an impeller suspended by magnetic bearings has been developed. Generation of a pulsatile pressure was studied using both a computer model and in vitro loop tests of the prototype. The motivation for developing a computer model for a blood pump in the natural circulation is two-fold. First, it allows simulation of the pump under a large variety of operating conditions. Second, it provides insight into what parameters of the system design are important for achieving a specific result. For example, in one case, an aortic pressure of 118/87 mmHg was generated by varying the speed from 2,000 to 2,600 rpm. The computer model was verified by coupling the centrifugal pump prototype to a mock circulatory system. The results of the model were verified by generating an aortic pressure of 113/78 mmHg while varying the speed from 2,000 to 2,600 rpm. These experiments have shown that it is possible to generate pulsatile pressure similar to that of native physiology using a centrifugal left ventricular assist device. Further tests will be required to quantify the effects on hemolysis.
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