Fluid dynamics of a pediatric ventricular assist device

Christopher Bachmann, Geoff Hugo, Gerson Rosenberg, Steve Deutsch, Arnold Fontaine, John M. Tarbell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


The number of pediatric patients requiring some form of mechanical circulatory assistance is growing throughout the world because of new surgical procedures and the success of pediatric cardiac transplantation. However, the salvage rate for those patients requiring circulatory support may be as low as 25%. Despite the fact that Penn State's 70 cc pneumatic ventricular assist device has been used with a success rate of over 90% in more than 250 patients worldwide, efforts to scale down the pump have encountered difficulties. Animal experiments with a 15 cc version were unsuccessful, with explanted pumps showing extensive thrombus deposition within the pumping chamber. The materials used to fabricate the smaller pump as well as the basic operating principles are identical to the successful adult-sized version. It is therefore believed that reducing the size of the pump altered the internal flow field, and that fluid dynamic factors were responsible for the high degree of thrombus observed with the implanted devices. A dimensional analysis was conducted that revealed significant differences in both Reynolds (Re) and Strouhal (St) numbers between the successful and unsuccessful pumps. Two component laser Doppler velocimetry was then used to characterize the internal flow field quantitatively. Comparison with data from the 70 cc pump showed a reduction in wall shear stress and turbulence levels in the 15 cc pump that would yield an environment conducive to clot formation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)362-372
Number of pages11
JournalArtificial organs
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Bioengineering
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Biomaterials
  • Biomedical Engineering


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