In Vitro Evaluation of an Immediate Response Starling-Like Controller for Dual Rotary Blood Pumps

Andrew F. Stephens, Michael C. Stevens, Shaun D. Gregory, Matthias Kleinheyer, Robert F. Salamonsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Rotary ventricular assist devices (VADs) are used to provide mechanical circulatory support. However, their lack of preload sensitivity in constant speed control mode (CSC) may result in ventricular suction or venous congestion. This is particularly true of biventricular support, where the native flow-balancing Starling response of both ventricles is diminished. It is possible to model the Starling response of the ventricles using cardiac output and venous return curves. With this model, we can create a Starling-like physiological controller (SLC) for VADs which can automatically balance cardiac output in the presence of perturbations to the circulation. The comparison between CSC and SLC of dual HeartWare HVADs using a mock circulation loop to simulate biventricular heart failure has been reported. Four changes in cardiovascular state were simulated to test the controller, including a 700 mL reduction in circulating fluid volume, a total loss of left and right ventricular contractility, reduction in systemic vascular resistance (SVR) from 1300 to 600 dyne s=cm5, and an elevation in pulmonary vascular resistance (PVR) from 100 to 300 dyne s=cm5. SLC maintained the left and right ventricular volumes between 69–214 mL and 29–182 mL respectively, for all tests, preventing ventricular suction (ventricular volume = 0 mL) and venous congestion (atrial pressures > 20 20 mm Hg). Cardiac output was maintained at sufficient levels by the SLC, with systemic and pulmonary flow rates maintained above 3.14 L/min for all tests. With the CSC, left ventricular suction occurred during reductions in SVR, elevations in PVR, and reduction in circulating fluid simulations. These results demonstrate a need for a physiological control system and provide adequate in vitro validation of the immediate response of a SLC for biventricular support.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)911-922
Number of pages12
JournalArtificial Organs
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2017


  • Heart failure
  • Physiological control
  • Rotary blood pump
  • Starling control
  • Ventricular assist device
  • Ventricular suction

Cite this