Computational fluid dynamic simulations of a cavopulmonary assist device for failing Fontan circulation

W. C.Patrick Lin, Matthew G. Doyle, S. Lucy Roche, Osami Honjo, Thomas L. Forbes, Cristina H. Amon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Objectives: Adult patients who have undergone the Fontan procedure are highly vulnerable to gradual, progressive circulatory failure, and options to reverse this situation are few. A cavopulmonary assist device could decongest the venous and lymphatic systems, overcome elevated pulmonary vascular resistance, increase cardiac output, and support some of these patients to heart transplant. This study characterizes the performance and challenges of a novel multilumen cannula coupled to an external blood pump proposed as a potential Fontan cavopulmonary assist strategy. Methods: Computational fluid dynamic simulations were conducted for 3 extracardiac Fontan geometries consisting of 1 idealized model and 2 patient-specific models. A range of physiologic flow rates and pump assist levels were simulated to calculate the pressure gain provided by the multilumen cannula. Hemolysis index was estimated for the idealized model with Lagrangian particle tracking and 2 variations of the power-law. Wall shear stresses were also examined. Results: Pressure gains up to 4 and 9 mm Hg were achieved for the idealized and patient-specific models, respectively. Pressure gains increased with both higher cardiac output and larger pump intake through the external pump. Flow-weighted hemolysis show hemoglobin damage levels to be several times lower than the 2% threshold at the highest pump intake flow cases. Wall shear stress predictions depict elevated areas in the pulmonary vessels and regions of the cannula device. Conclusions: The cannula tested in this study shows promise as a percutaneous option to bridge support in some patients with a failing extracardiac Fontan. Limitations identified will be addressed in future design iterations and in ongoing experimental tests.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1424-1433.e5
JournalJournal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Fontan circulation
  • cavopulmonary assist
  • computational fluid dynamics
  • hemolysis
  • multilumen cannula


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