Medical

Permanent artificial heart is playing for keeps

Permanent artificial heart is ...
OHSU’s total artificial heart is designed to permanently replace a failing heart for most adults and children aged 10 or older
OHSU’s total artificial heart is designed to permanently replace a failing heart for most adults and children aged 10 or older
View 2 Images
OHSU’s total artificial heart is designed to permanently replace a failing heart for most adults and children aged 10 or older
1/2
OHSU’s total artificial heart is designed to permanently replace a failing heart for most adults and children aged 10 or older
One thing that differentiates the OHSU heart from other devices is the fact that it creates a blood flow that mimics a natural human pulse, as opposed to a continuous flow
2/2
One thing that differentiates the OHSU heart from other devices is the fact that it creates a blood flow that mimics a natural human pulse, as opposed to a continuous flow

Although artificial hearts have been around for some time now, there's just one that's approved for human use in the US, and it's only intended to keep patients going until they can get a heart transplant. A device being developed by the Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), however, is designed to be a permanent fix.

The OHSU artificial heart was invented by now-retired Dr. Richard Wampler, with spinoff company OregonHeart starting work on the device in 2014. That company has since ceased operations, so the university itself took over development last year.

In an effort to minimize the chances of mechanical failure, the device has been kept simple – unlike other artificial hearts, it has just one moving part, and no valves that could get stuck.

The moving part is a titanium alloy-coated hollow rod that shuttles back and forth inside a titanium tube, suspended within that tube on hydrodynamic bearings. This apparatus serves the same purpose as the two lower chambers of the heart (the ventricles), moving blood first to the lungs and then throughout the body.

Another thing that differentiates the OHSU heart from other devices is the fact that it creates a blood flow that mimics a natural human pulse, as opposed to a continuous flow. According to the university, this should minimize blood damage and clotting, plus it may also reduce the risk of gastrointestinal bleeding and stroke.

One thing that differentiates the OHSU heart from other devices is the fact that it creates a blood flow that mimics a natural human pulse, as opposed to a continuous flow
One thing that differentiates the OHSU heart from other devices is the fact that it creates a blood flow that mimics a natural human pulse, as opposed to a continuous flow

Power comes from a combined control unit/rechargeable battery pack, that could be carried in a pocket or worn on a belt. It is hoped that the battery could ultimately be implanted under the skin, and then recharged using an external source.

Previous versions of the OHSU heart have been successfully implanted in cows and sheep for short periods. The scientists are now developing a smaller model that they hope to implant in sheep for three-month-long tests, which could hopefully be followed by human trials.

Source: OHSU

4 comments
guzmanchinky
Wow, talk about range anxiety...
BrianK56
I like the idea of regenerative medicine more than this, but if it works it would be great.
bwana4swahili
I'd much prefer a nice cloned heart for replacement. I guess I'm still stuck in a biological era?
ljaques
Range anxiety? Nah. I think I'll take my new heart out for a run. When's the next Marathon? I just can't drive to there in my e-car.