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Realistic cardiovascular simulator expedites medical device testing

MAY 31, 2024
Soft robotic ventricle aided by hydraulic activation recreates cardiac anatomy and physiology for rapid testing and imaging.
Realistic cardiovascular simulator expedites medical device testing internal name

Realistic cardiovascular simulator expedites medical device testing lead image

Medical devices are such a central part of most medical care that it becomes easy to take their presence for granted. But every device must undergo rigorous testing to ensure its safety and effectiveness, a process that can be expensive and time-consuming. Testing simulators that mimic the relevant clinical environment can expedite the development process.

The cardiovascular system is particularly challenging to simulate, and a successful testing platform needs to reproduce its complexity while accommodating many different types of devices. Rocchi et al. developed such a simulator featuring a soft robotic left ventricle for a realistic and flexible testing environment.

Key to their simulator’s performance is a hydraulic activation method for the left ventricle to recreate dynamic changes throughout the cardiac cycle.

“Utilizing two gear pumps to control left ventricular volume and pressure, we achieved realistic pressure-volume loops crucial for accurate physiological simulation,” said author Maria Rocchi. “Additionally, the soft robotic left ventricle, crafted from echogenic polyvinyl alcohol, enables ultrasound imaging during simulation sessions, enhancing visualization and facilitating detailed analysis of cardiac dynamics.”

The team tested their design by comparing it to clinical data and evaluating its accuracy and realism across a range of scenarios. Following its excellent performance, they are looking forward to practical applications for their simulator.

“It could be ideal for testing various medical devices like ventricular assist devices and imaging techniques such as 3D ultrasound,” said Rocchi. “Beyond device optimization, it could be used to support personalized therapy characterization and serve as a decision support system in clinical settings, aiding in device selection and treatment planning for individual patients.”

Source: “A patient-specific echogenic soft robotic left ventricle embedded into a closed-loop cardiovascular simulator for advanced device testing,” by Maria Rocchi, Konstantina Papangelopoulou, Marcus Ingram, Youri Bekhuis, Guido Claessen, Piet Claus, Jan D’hooge, Dirk W. Donker, Bart Meyns, and Libera Fresiello, APL Bioengineering (2024). The article can be accessed at https://doi.org/10.1063/5.0203653 .

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