The future development of implantable axial flow blood pumps must address two major issues: mechanically induced hemolysis and shaft seal reliability. The recent revisions to our miniature intraventricular axial flow left ventricular assist device (LVAD) were aimed particularly at addressing these concerns. To improve hemocompatibility, a new impeller has been designed according to the following criteria: 1) gradual pressure rise along the blade chord; 2) minimized local fluid acceleration to prevent cavitation; 3) minimum surface roughness; and 4) radius edges. Subsequent in vitro hemolysis tests conducted with bovine and ovine blood have demonstrated very low hemolysis (normalized index of hemolysis = 0.0051 ± 0.0047 g/100 L) with this new impeller design. To address the need for a reliable seal, we have developed a purged seal system consisting of a miniature lip seal and ceramic pressure groove journal bearing that also acts as a purge pump. Several spiral grooves formed on the bearing surface provide viscous pumping of the purge fluid, generating more than 3,000 mmHg at 10,000 rpm. This purge flow flushes the lip seal and prevents blood backflow into the bearing. We have found this purge pump to offer several advantages because it is simple, compact, durable, does not require separate actuation, and offers a wide range of flow, depending upon the groove design. In vivo animal tests demonstrated the potential of the purged seal system.
ASJC Scopus subject areas