Pulse-free artificial heart

Cardiac surgeon "Bud" Frazier and his team at theTexas Heart Institute are developing what theyhope will be a fully-functioning, pulse-free artificial heart. The"continuous flow pump" channels deoxygenated blood through the entirebody on a non-stop basis, and over two years of testing in cattle, hasresulted in lengthening the lives of the previously terminal cudchewers. Replacement hearts that are currently available are too largeto fit into folks without "large chest cavities" (including mostwomen), and due to the vast quantity of moving parts, aren't guaranteedto function for an extended period of time. Frazier's alternative,however, is about the size of "an adult thumb," consists of a singlemoving part (the rotor), and has been designed to keep the blood movingfor ten or more years. The HeartMate II can even respond dynamically tothe needs of the body, so more blood is circulated when busting a move, and less is pumped when kicking back for a soothing game of competitive relaxation.While the long-term consequences of living a pulseless life are stillunder debate, Frazier's group is hoping to move forward withdevelopment -- and apparently challenge medical personnel everywhere to find a new way to monitor those vital signs.

Source: technologyreview.comAdded: 10 October 2006