Waltham, MA —A new electromechanical driver nicknamed "Magscrew" may drive the next generation of totally artificial hearts. Working with the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, medical technology developer Foster-Miller is testing the driver for use in a pulsatile artificial heart. "As the name implies, Magscrew converts rotary motion into linear actuation using state-of-the-art permanent magnets," says Foster-Miller Business Manager Blair Hough.
The driver is similar to a common nut and screw, but replaces mechanical threads with helical magnets. As the magnets on the internal diameter of the nut rotate clockwise and counter-clockwise, they interact with a similar magnetic helix on the plunger to create linear motion. The back and forth motion pushes on left and right pump diaphragms that eject blood.
"During the fill phase, the pump diaphragms are free floating to have maximum sensitivity to venous pressure," says Hough.
The pump requires less than 15 watts of power during normal operation. "That's about two-thirds the power requirements of our competition," says Hough.
The artificial heart project is supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute for advances in otherwise untreatable heart failure.