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An artificial heart that doesn't beat

HeartMateII - A continuous flow cardiac assist device.At present, artificial hearts work by making use of an implanted hydraulic pumping system to simulate a natural heart beat. However if O.H. “Bud” Frazier, a prominent heart surgeon has his way, artificial hearts in the future will pump blood through the body continuously rather than with the periodic beat of the normal heart.

Pumps that work on this principle, known as continuous flow pumps, are already in clinical use as part of "ventricular assist devices," which are implanted into patients with some remaining heart function to help circulate blood through the body. (Artificial hearts replace the heart entirely).

"Continuous flow pumps are like little turbo machines," says Tim Baldwin, program director of the advanced technologies and surgery branch of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute in Bethesda MD. "They are more durable and allow you to make smaller devices."

With Frazier's continuous flow design for an entirely artificial heart, a severely damaged heart is removed and replaced with two rotor-based pumps that continually cycle blood through the body, completely taking over the function of the heart.

Link & Image: Technology Review
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