As the clinical application of LVADs has increased, attempts have been made to develop smaller, less expensive, more durable and efficient implantable devices using rotary blood pumps. Since chronic circulatory support with implantable continuous-flow LVADs will be established in the near future, we need to determine the flow characteristics through an implantable continuous-flow LVAD. This study describes the flow characteristics through an implantable centrifugal blood pump as a left ventricular assist device (LVAD) to obtain a simple non-invasive algorithm to control its assist flow rate adequately. A prototype of the completely seal-less and pivot bearing-supported centrifugal blood pump was implanted into two calves, bypassing from the left ventricle to the descending aorta. Device motor speed, voltage, current, flow rate, and aortic blood pressure were monitored continuously. The flow patterns revealed forward flow in ventricular systole and backward flow in diastole. As the pump speed increased, an end-diastolic notch became evident in the flow profile. Although the flow rate (Q [1/min]) and rotational speed (R [rpm]) had a linear correlation (Q = 0.0042R - 5.159; r = 0.96), this linearity was altered after the end-diastolic notch was evident. The end-diastolic notch is considered to be a sign of the sucking phenomenon of the centrifugal pump. Also, although the consumed current (I [A]) and flow rate had a linear correlation (I = 0.212Q + 0.29; r = 0.97), this linearity also changed after the end-diastolic notch was evident. Based upon the above findings, we propose a simple algorithm to maintain submaximal flow without inducing sucking. To maintain the submaximal flow rate without measuring flow rate, the sucking point is determined by monitoring consumed current according to gradual increases in voltage.
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