Loughborough University
Leicestershire, UK
LE11 3TU
+44 (0)1509 222222
Loughborough University

Chemical Engineering

News and Events

Developing new heart valves

March 14

Chemical Engineers at Loughborough University are working alongside a heart transplant surgeon at Papworth Hospital and design engineers at Cambridge Reactor Design, to manufacture implantable heart pumps.  The availability of good donor hearts has limited the number of successful heart transplants in the UK and worldwide. Nowadays, many patients receive a ventricular assist device (VAD) (a blood pump) as a substitute to a weak heart while awaiting heart transplantation. Currently we use pumps that are exterior to the heart (lying within the thoracic cavity) and are connected to the ventricular chamber through a hole. They are large and cause the patient some discomfort.  Electrical leads that transfer power to the pump also pierce the abdominal skin and hence provide a potential source of infection.

Our research project aims to construct a VAD whose pump head can be miniaturised so that it can be implanted directly in the aortic valve or pulmonary valve position (for left and right ventricular support respectively) without the need for extra-cardiac pumps or vascular grafts. The pump will be powered via leads that leave the pump to join a battery that can be implanted under the skin in the pectoral region and can be charged remotely from a domestic energy source. The Loughborough group, under the direction of Prof Chris Rielly, will model the flow through the heart using computational fluid dynamics, to understand regions where there is stagnation or high shear stress which may result in clotting.


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Department of Chemical Engineering
Loughborough University
LE11 3TU

+44 (0)1509 222 533