Diamonds: A Heart Pump's Best Friend

February 23, 2009

2 Min Read
Diamonds: A Heart Pump's Best Friend

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The inflow opening of an infant-size Jarvik blood pump. The black material on the cage is the diamond coating.

Advanced Diamond Technologies Inc. (ADT) has agreed to supply diamond coatings to Jarvik Heart Inc. (JHI) to improve the blood contacting surfaces of heart pumps that are currently under development. Known as UNCD, the thin and smooth diamond surface inhibits the formation of blood clots inside the heart pumps and reduces the need for blood-thinning medications.In some patients, blood clots can form on the titanium or ceramic components used in heart pumps such as rotors and bearings, inhibiting the devices' ability to pump blood. In extreme cases, blood clots can break free, travel to the brain, and cause strokes."Presently, blood-thinning drugs are used with all types of electric rotary blood pumps," notes Robert Jarvik, president and CEO of JHI. "If the UNCD coating successfully eliminates the formation of blood clots without the need for anticoagulation, this would solve one of the remaining barriers to the widespread use of heart-assist devices in tens of thousands of patients dying of heart failure."ADT's president Neil Kane states that the processes employed to manufacture UNCD for industrial applications were applicable and transferable to heart pumps. He adds that his company is beginning to explore untapped commercial applications for UNCD, including artificial heart valves, cardiac stents, and other metal and ceramic components of intravascular prostheses.Because the flow channels of heart pumps for infants and children are so tiny, the risk of blood clotting is even higher with these devices than with pumps used for adults. Under a contract from the National Institutes of Health, JHI is developing small heart pumps incorporating UNCD, which are expected to save children's lives in the future.

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