The University of Pittsburgh intravenous membrane oxygenator (IMO) is undergoing additional engineering development and characterization. The focus of these efforts is an IMO device that can supply as much as one-half basal O2 consumption and CO2 elimination rates while residing within the inferior and superior vena cavae after peripheral venous insertion. The current IMO design consists of a bundle of hollow fiber membranes potted to manifolds at each end, with an intra-aortic type balloon integrally situated within the fiber bundle. Pulsation of the balloon using helium gas and a balloon pump console promotes fluid and fiber motion and enhances gas exchange. During the past year, more than 15 IMO prototypes have been fabricated and extensively bench tested to characterize O2 gas exchange capacity, balloon inflation/deflation over relevant frequency ranges, and the pneumatics of the sweep gas pathway through the device. The testing has led to several engineering changes, including redesign of the helium and sweep gas pathways within the IMO device. As a result, the maximum rate of balloon pulsation has increased substantially above the previous 70 bpm to 160 bpm, and the vacuum pressure required for sufficient sweep gas flow has been reduced. The recent IMO prototypes have demonstrated an O2 exchange capacity of as much as 90 ml/min/m2 in water, which appears within 70% of our design goal when extrapolated to scaled up devices in blood.
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