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Control of ventricular unloading using an electrocardiogram-synchronized Thoratec paracorporeal ventricular assist device
Current pulsatile ventricular assist devices operate asynchronous with the left ventricle in fixed-rate or fill-to-empty modes because electrocardiogram-triggered modes have been abandoned. We hypothesize that varying the ejection delay in the synchronized mode yields more precise control of hemodynamics and left ventricular loading. This allows for a refined management that may be clinically beneficial.
Eight sheep received a Thoratec paracorporeal ventricular assist device (Thoratec Corp, Pleasanton, Calif) via ventriculo-aortic cannulation. Left ventricular pressure and volume, aortic pressure, pulmonary flow, pump chamber pressure, and pump inflow and outflow were recorded. The pump was driven by a clinical pneumatic drive unit (Medos Medizintechnik AG, Stolberg, Germany) synchronously with the native R-wave. The start of pump ejection was delayed between 0% and 100% of the cardiac period in 10% increments. For each of these delays, hemodynamic variables were compared with baseline data using paired t tests.
The location of the minimum of stroke work was observed at a delay of 10% (soon after aortic valve opening), resulting in a median of 43% reduction in stroke work compared with baseline. Maximum stroke work occurred at a median delay of 70% with a median stroke work increase of 11% above baseline. Left ventricular volume unloading expressed by end-diastolic volume was most pronounced for copulsation (delay 0%).
The timing of pump ejection in synchronized mode yields control over left ventricular energetics and can be a method to achieve gradual reloading of a recoverable left ventricle. The traditionally suggested counterpulsation is not optimal in ventriculo-aortic cannulation when maximum unloading is desired.