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Researchers develop soft robotic system for those with single ventricle heart failure

Researchers develop soft robotic system for those with single ventricle heart failure

A research team have developed a soft robotic system that can help a person with single ventricle heart failure.

Researchers from Boston Children's Hospital, the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University teamed up to work on a system, which could help people whose left or right ventricle stops working whilst the other one remains working fine.

Nikolay Vasilyev, MD, a researcher in cardiac surgery at Boston Children's Hospital, said: "We set out to develop new technology that would help one diseased ventricle, when the patient is in isolated left or right heart failure, pull blood into the chamber and then effectively pump it into the circulatory system ...

"Running blood through a pump always requires a patient to be placed - permanently - on anticoagulant medication to prevent blood clotting. It can be very difficult to keep the right balance of medication, especially in pediatric patients, who are therefore at risk of excessive bleeding or dangerous clotting."

It effectively helps the diseased ventricle start pumping blood again by simulating the natural movement of the heart.

Vasilyev added: "We've combined rigid bracing with soft robotic actuators to gently but sturdily help a diseased heart chamber pump blood effectively ... With the use of classic left ventricular assist devices, there are patients who experience a septum shift towards the right side and subsequent ballooning of the right ventricle, which can cause secondary right heart failure. Here, the rigid brace keeps the septum in its original position, protecting the healthy right side of the heart from the mechanical load of the left ventricular assistance."

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