BACKGROUND: Weaning of patients from mechanical cardiac support after myocardial recovery has always involved multiple, interacting factors, particularly the training of the myocardium during reduction of pump flow. Rotary pumps offer training advantages when support flow is reduced, even to nearly zero. We report a computer analysis that evaluates the work required of the heart during partial unloading and removal of rotary pumps.
METHODS AND RESULTS: A computer model of the assisted circulation, previously implemented in MATLAB (The MathWorks Inc, Natick, Mass), has been augmented with a model of the MicroMed DeBakey ventricular assist device (MicroMed Technology, Inc, Houston, Tex). Flow, pressure patterns, and external work (pressure-volume area, calculated as the area of the ventricular pressure-volume loop Äexternal workÅ plus potential energy) were calculated for nonassisted and various continuously assisted patients. Under low-flow conditions, the heart imposes an oscillating forward–backward flow through the non-occlusive rotary pump, causing an increase in ventricular work. Thus, an assist flow of 1 to 1.5 L/min requires work equivalent to that of the unsupported heart. At 60% contractility, the nonassisted pressure-volume area is 1.10 Ws/beat, and the potential energy is 0.38 Ws/beat. At a Qpump of 1 L/min, the pressure-volume area is 1.21 Ws/beat, and the potential energy is 0.37 Ws/beat. At a Qpump of 3 L/min, the pressure-volume area is 0.93 Ws/beat, and the potential energy is 0.29 Ws/beat. These conditions cannot be achieved with pulsatile systems.
CONCLUSION: During weaning and retraining, an implanted rotary pump can provide a workload to the heart like that in the nonassisted situation, thus increasing the predictability of weaning and reducing the risk of reiterating heart failure.