ECMO and Artificial Heart Research
Outside-the-body blood oxygenation (ECMO) in the treatment of heart failure continues to be an area of research that provides important practice changes to help patients recover better from major heart and lung surgery. This machine was used extensively in non-heart/non-surgical patients during the 2009 infamous swine flu pandemic. Dr Michael Stevens from The Charles Perkins Centre is working with The Baird Institute and recently published in the Journal of Biomechanics, 2017: ‘Flow mixing during peripheral veno-arterial extra corporeal membrane oxygenation – A simulation study’. Michael’s work involves studying how blood is returned from the ECMO machine and mixes with the patient’s residual blood. These effects cannot be seen with current imaging in theatre, so Michael has been using computer simulation of these effects in a wide-range of patient-specific conditions and scenarios, to provide feedback to the surgeon and the wider research community on these effects.
In contrast to this approach, a systematic review undertaken by Dr Michael Seco and The Baird Institute researchers has analysed a large series of published papers on the use of Left ventricular Assist Devices (LVADs) that help the heart function until a heart transplant is performed. Published in the International Journal of Cardiology, 2017: ‘Long-term prognosis and cost-effectiveness of left ventricular assist device as bridge to transplantation: A systematic review’, the overall analysis of data from these papers provides certainty that the use of LVADs continues to provide reliable care and continuing improved outcomes for patients beyond the initial surgical period.
Continuing work is being done with Professor John Fraser and the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia in the ACTIONS (Advanced Cardio-respiratory Therapies Improving OrgaN Support) study, conducted with the Centre for Research Excellence.