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From aircraft aerodynamics to improved heart implants

The researchers optimised a Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV) system traditionally used to improve the aerodynamics of aircraft wings to make it capable of accurately measuring the effects of medical implants on blood flow. Their work will allow medical device manufacturers to improve the design of devices such as heart valves and pumps, and provide doctors with a way to detect and ultimately correct - the side-effects that commonly afflict patients who receive implants.

"This system could revolutionise heart treatments," says Fabrizio Lagasco, coordinator of the SMART-PIV project.

The SMART-PIV system - which combines the optimised PIV hardware with advanced image processing and numerical analysis software over a parallel computing subsystem - fills a gap in the heart device sector that has limited the efficiency of implants.

Though ultrasound scans allow doctors to view potential problems with the natural heart, as well as locally in the circulatory system, they fall short of providing a detailed analysis of the causes of problems related to blood flow when modified by artificial implanted devices. In the field of biomedical device design, experiments involving the implantation of medical devices into animals can prove that a device functions, but such in vivo trials are lengthy and costly as well as not always being indicative of the effects the implant will have in humans.

Complications, ranging from the minor to the potentially fatal, are widespread among patients who receive implants either as a long-term solution to a failing heart or as a temporary 'bridge' while they await a transplant. Though such implants play a vital role in prolonging the lives of people with cardiovascular disease, reducing their side-effects through improved in vitro design would undoubtedly increase patients' quality of life and their chances of long-term survival. That is particularly true in the case of ventricular-assist devices (VADs), battery-ope
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Contact: Tara Morris
tmorris@gopa-cartermill.com
322-286-1985
IST Results
27-Sep-2005


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