The Cleveland Clinic-Nimbus total artificial heart: Design and in vitro function

A. Massiello, R. Kiraly, K. Butler, S. Himley, J. F. Chen, P. M. McCarthy*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


We describe the design and in vitro testing of the Cleveland Clinic-Nimbus electrohydraulic permanent total artificial heart as it nears completion of development. The total artificial heart uses an electric motor and hydraulic actuator to drive two diaphragm-type blood pumps. The interventricular space contains the pump control electronics and is vented to an air-filled compliance chamber. Pericardial tissue valves and biolized blood-contacting surfaces potentially eliminate the need for anticoagulation. In vitro studies on a mock circulatory circuit demonstrated preload-sensitive control of pump output over the operating range of the blood pump: 70 to 160 beats/min and 5 to 9.6 L/min at right and left atrial pressures of 1.0 to 7.0 mm Hg and 5.0 to 12.0 mm Hg, respectively. The pump output was found to be insensitive to afterload over a range of 15 to 40 mm Hg mean pulmonary artery pressure and 60 to 130 mm Hg mean systemic pressure. The left master alternate control mode balanced the ventricular outputs during simulated bronchial artery shunting of up to 20 % of cardiac output. A 10 % to 15 % right-pump, stroke-volume limner balanced ventricular outputs during maximum output of 9.6 L/min. In response to a sustained increase in systemic venous return, the pump increased output by 2 L/ min (29 %) in 35 seconds. Thus the Cleveland Clinic-Nimbus total artificial heart meets the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute hemodynamic performance goals for devices being developed for permanent heart replacement. The biolized blood-contacting surfaces should decrease the risk of thromboembolism associated with circulatory assist devices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)412-419
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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