The worldwide increase in chronic heart failure leads more and more to a shortage of donor organs. Increasing waiting times deteriorate the patients’ condition to such an extent that mechanical ventricular support systems become inevitable to bypass the timeframe until a suitable donor heart is identified.
Due to the latest progress it has become achievable to implant artificial heart systems into the human body which mark a huge improvement in the patients’ quality of living. The most common systems are the so-called left ventricular support systems (LVAD) which are applied for bridge-to-transplant and bridge-to-recovery therapies as well as a final therapy method. An implanted pump which is attached to the left heart ventricle continuously takes blood from the left ventricle to the aorta.
An inherent problem remains the power supply of the ventricular support systems which must be carried out by an external source. At this stage of development it is achieved by wires which are passed through the abdominal wall. This often leads to so-called driveline infections which are a life-threatening complication.
A new form of energy transfer in terms of a contactless transcutaneous inductive energy transfer would represent a significant improvement in the treatment of heart failure patients.
Recent studies show that the inductive energy transfer is eligible to by-pass significant distances and various materials while providing excellent efficiency. The physical principle of inductive energy transfer is based on the electromagnetic coupling of a primary and secondary coil. The excitation of a primary coil causes an alternating electromagnetic field which induces a voltage at a secondary coil’s terminals. As a result it is possible to supply devices and charge implanted batteries without any electrical conductive connection. The inductive charging approach has already been carried out in many more applications in the consumer or automotive area.
Yet an adaption for implanted medical devices involves a lot of new research subjects. The development of effectively fail safe systems, biocompatiblity of the applied materials and tissue heating due to power losses are, among other things, mentionable challenges to consider.
In addition to the avoided risks of driveline infections, the inductive energy transfer approach would contribute to a better quality of living for patients. With an easy-to-use coil system and the usage of implanted energy storages, patients would be able to bypass a certain timespan without any external source. Having a shower or bath with comparatively insignificant effort are only a few of the possible advantages.
As the market is growing rapidly due to the increasing gap between donor organs and heart failure patients, consequently there is an increasing demand for LVAD-systems as well as for the further improvements of these systems.