A compact centrifugal blood pump was developed as an implantable left ventricular assist system. The impeller diameter is 40 mm and the pump dimensions are 55 X 64 mm. This first prototype was fabricated from titanium alloy, resulting in a pump weight of 400 g including a brushless DC motor. Weight of the second prototype pump was reduced to 200 g. The entire blood contacting surface is coated with diamond like carbon to improve blood compatibility. Flow rates of over 7 L/min against 100 mmHg pressure at 2,500 rpm with 9 W total power consumption have been measured. A newly designed mechanical seal with a recirculating purge system ('Cool-Seal') is used as a shaft seat. In this seat system, seat temperature is kept under 40°C to prevent heat denaturation of blood proteins. Purge fluid also cools the pump motor coil and journal bearing. The purge fluid is continuously purified and sterilized by an ultrafiltration filter incorporated into the paracorporeal drive console. In vitro experiments with bovine blood demonstrated an acceptably low hemolysis rate (normalized index of hemolysis = 0.005 ± 0.002 g/100 L). In vivo experiments are currently ongoing using calves. Via left thoracotomy, left ventricular apex-descending aorta bypass was performed utilizing a PTFE (Polytetrafluoroethylene) vascular graft, with the pump placed in the left thoracic cavity. In two in vivo experiments, pump flow rate was maintained at 5-8 L/min, and pump power consumption remained stable at 9-10 W. All plasma free hemoglobin levels were measured at <15 mg/dl. The seal system has demonstrated good seal capability with negligible purge fluid consumption (<0.5 ml/day). Both animals remain under observation after 162 and 91 days of continuous pump function.
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