Intra-aortic pumps powered by miniature brushless DC motors from maxon provide heart failure patients an aid to help hearts rest and heal, allowing for circulatory support without surgery.

A team of life science entrepreneurs in Houston, Texas, forming a group called Procyrion, has developed the first catheter-deployed circulatory assist device that is intended for long-term use. This device, the Aortix, provides a minimally invasive treatment option for the more than two million heart failure patients in the U.S. who are too sick for medication. The Aortix assists the natural function of the heart, dramatically reducing risks associated with other circulatory support devices and enabling the treatment of younger, healthier patients before progressive damage occurs. Crucial to this device are the EC motors for intra-aortic pumps that allow for the proper functioning of these devices.

Aortix vs. Other Circulatory Support Devices

The Aortix has been thoughtfully designed as an alternative to the large, cumbersome surgical devices currently used for full circulatory support. With minimal procedural risk, measuring only about 6 mm in diameter by 6.5 cm in length, the device can be delivered by a cardiologist via a catheter in the femoral artery to the descending thoracic aorta. Once the catheter sheath is retracted, the self-expanding nickel-titanium anchors deploy to affix the pump to the aortic wall.

How the Aortix Works

The Aortix accelerates a portion of the body’s native blood flow within the pump and pushes it through fluid entrainment ports directed downstream. Jets entrain native aortic flow, transferring energy to the cardiovascular system and increasing blood flow to vital organs.

In a model of chronic heart failure, the device was able to decrease energy consumption of the heart by almost 40%, allowing it to operate more efficiently, encouraging cardiac rehabilitation and recovery. The device is currently capable of running for 8 hours on a single battery pack. These battery packs, along with the control unit, are “hot swappable” – meaning they can be changed without needing to stop the device. These batteries can also be wirelessly charged, which has the potential to reduce the risk of infections that are common with other implantable heart pumps.

Unlike other devices, Aortix doesn’t obstruct native blood flow, so failure of the device is not life threatening. Should the pump fail, the device can be easily retrieved and replaced in another minimally invasive, catheter-based procedure.

maxon EC6 Motor Medical Applications

The basis for the Aortix is a maxon EC6 motor with some customizations like the electrical lead, shaft length, and bearing assemblies. These customizations are designed to make the pump durable and biocompatible. Maxon utilized a high efficiency motor core for this application to extend battery life and produce less heat which avoids adverse effects on circulating blood.

Maxon is also working with Procyrion to use a magnetic torque drive, which would allow the motor to be mounted inside a hermetically sealed chamber, eliminating the possibility of blood entering the motor core.

Electromate supplies maxon motors like those used for intra-aortic pump devices. For more information regarding these and other motors from maxon, contact us today.