A new technology for implanted electrical heart pumps in the treatment of heart failure
Novel and Emerging Technologies (NET) Grant – Prof Omar Escalona, Ulster University
Summary: Left ventricular assist devices (LVAD) are mechanical pumps which support a failing heart. To address the limitations of currently used heart pumps, this project will optimise a new wireless power transmission technology for supplying power to LVADs. If successful, this new technology may improve quality of life and survival rates of patients with advanced heart failure.
Heart failure (HF) is an important and growing public health problem despite better treatments. Left ventricular assist devices (LVAD) are mechanical pumps which support a failing heart. LVADs significantly improve survival and quality of life in patients with advanced heart failure, and are increasingly used as a temporary bridge to transplantation or as permanent therapy. However, the electric power is supplied to LVADs via a driveline cable through the skin and the high incidence of infection with these drivelines is a major problem. This has prompted the development of wireless power transmission (WPT) solutions across the skin to eliminate the need for a cable to supply power to the implanted LVAD. However, the implanted coil of the WPT system causes significant heating effects in the skin tissue, leading to local skin and tissue damage. This issue remains a major challenge with the current technology and is the main limiting factor with conventional WPT systems.
Professor Escalona and his team have developed a new technology to address the limitations of current WPT systems, called Transcutaneous Wireless Energy Supply for Medical Implants (TWESMI). This wireless system transmits high-energy pulse packages of short duration, separated by relatively long idle times, which allows skin tissue cooling. The aim of this project is to optimise the proposed new WPT system technology for LVAD use in patients with HF, by minimising the tissue heating effects of the implanted wireless energy transfer coil.
This project will address the need for resolving the infection problems associated with LVAD power drive lines through the skin. It is envisaged that this project will benefit HF patients by improving clinical outcomes and quality of life, and will reduce the HF healthcare burden. Also, it may accelerate a more widespread use of LVADs in the treatment of chronic HF.