Experimental characterization of an artificial heart prototype

Supervisor : Prof. François Avellan
Assistant : Dr. Audrey Maertens
Theme : Experimental data collection and analysis

Heart failure (HF) is a major public health problem associated with significant mortality, with a prevalence of over 22 million worldwide, 150.000 in Switzerland, and numbers expected to double by 2040. When HF reaches its end-stage, the only effective existing therapeutic option is heart transplant, which requires a donor, whose heart is harvested and implanted in the receiver (patient). Due to a limited number of donors and a growing waiting list for heart transplant, up to 10% of patients pass away while waiting for the organ. An alternative would be to implant these patients with an artificial heart, but existing technologies fail to provide valid alternatives.

In collaboration with the CHUV and HES-SO Valais/Wallis, we have developed the RollingHeart, a compact mechanical double pump able to generate a pulsatile flow in two parallel circuits. With its spherical cavity and two rotating palettes defining four cavities of varying volume, the RollingHeart could become the first pulsatile artificial heart without traditional valves.

The student will conduct a measurement campaign on a specifically developed test bench to characterize the RollingHeart prototype. With these measurements, she/he will assess the strengths and weaknesses of the RollingHeart. She/he will also propose recommendations to improve the both the RollingHeart design and the test bench.