The Cleveland Clinic Foundation's Innovative Ventricular Assist System (IVAS) uses a hydrodynamic journal bearing to support the rotating assembly of the blood pump. Bearing dimensions are chosen so that a stable film of lubricant develops and separates stationary and rotating pump surfaces during operation. This bearing type provides several advantages for a permanently implanted device, including essentially no wear for very long life and very high reliability, as well as a self pumping action that generates circumferential wash flow and thus lowers the risk of bearing associated deposition. However, these advantages are accompanied by design issues not encountered with typical journal bearings, such as low shear stress, bearing ends that are not at atmospheric pressure, and low radial bearing loads. To address these issues, several concepts for a hydrodynamic blood bearing were designed and analyzed using a special computer code to perform parametric studies. This design analysis code was developed to define optimum bearing performance under selected load and speed ranges and within practical tolerances. Results showed the range of dimensions and conditions over which an effective, reliable, blood lubricated journal bearing can be designed. Subsequent bench testing has validated the theoretical conclusions and shown this bearing type to be very robust in a blood pump application.
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