The Aarhus School of Engineering and Aarhus University Hospital have developed a five millimetre long sensor that can help to improve the lifetime of artificial cardiac valves, which are used in patients suffering from heart disease, reports professional journal Ingeniøren (The Engineer).
Biological cardiac valves, which are primarily made from porcine tissue, are implanted in patients with malfunctioning valves. Because of their limited durability, they are mainly implanted in patients above 65 years of age. Up to now it has not been possible to make detailed measurements of how the cardiac musculature influences the implanted valves, since even the smallest sensor – due to its stiffness – has impacted the measurement results.
Peter Johansen, lecturer at the Aarhus School of Engineering, says: "With the new sensor, we can for the first time measure the cardiac musculature's effect on implanted biological cardiac valves. The measurements can be used to further develop artificial cardiac valves so that their lifetime is lengthened to more than the 20 to 30 years that they typically last today."
The new sensor is made from a special material consisting of a silicone membrane with a double silver layer developed by Danfoss PolyPower. It is flexible and can be implanted directly onto the artificial valves.
"It will be a giant leap in the development of biological cardiac valves when we gain access to accurate measurements. Based on the measurement results, we hope we can develop cardiac valves that last longer than the existing ones and so give less risk of complications, which will increase the life quality of patients with heart disease," says Johansen.
The sensor has been made in prototype form and will now be thoroughly tested in models which simulate the heart, as well as in living pigs.