Thursday, September 17, 2009

Scientists have created what they claim is a wireless heart pump, thereby avoiding the need for infectionprone power cables running through the chest and eventually offering an alternative to heart transplants.
Previous heart pumps needed wires through the chest to get their power which was a source of serious infection in as many as 40 per cent of patients. Now, an international team has come up with a technology to power a wireless heart pump.

According to the scientists, the wireless heart pump uses magnetic fields to transfer power through a person's skin rather than using wire cables. The pump can be powered this way 24 hours a day for a person's lifetime. The scientists, led by Auckland University, have now floated a new company, TETCor, to take the technology to market for powering a wide range of devices implanted in human body.

According to TETCor CEO, Dr Simon Malpas, heart pumps need a huge amount of power. And the only way to power current artificial heart pumps is through a wire cable that goes via a patient's stomach and chest.
He said these wires cause serious infections, often leading to death in about 40 per cent of patients.

"This new wireless heart pump weights only 92 grams and measures just seven centimetres by three centimetres. It uses a coil outside a person's body to generate a magnetic field. A second coil placed inside a person's body, near the collar bone, picks up the signal from this field and creates power for the pump," Dr Malpas said. Dr Malpas said previous attempts at making wireless heart pumps produced too much heat. These earlier pumps would have ended up "cooking a person from the inside".

"The secret of this new technology is to deliver exactly the right amount of power, thereby eliminating the heating problem."

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