Nearly 20 million people suffer from debilitating heart conditions, with over 2 million added to that list each year. Many of these people could use heart transplants — but there are precious few to go around. This leaves them with no alternative but to wait until one becomes available.

That depressing statistic spurred researchers in the Department of Radiology and Biological Engineering at the University of Tokyo to take action.

In Japan, the average transplant recipient waits 981 days to receive their new heart — over two and a half years. The team at the University of Tokyo set out to make that wait time easier by creating an artificial heart that can perform as well as a real heart, or in the very least, can enable them to survive until a suitable donor is found.

Doctors and engineers have been working on artificial heart designs for decades. So far, no one has managed to design a product that can last the 981 days these patients often must wait for their transplant.

The team at the University of Tokyo took PTC Creo and set out to design a prototype that could enable patients to survive until a transplant was found, and that could eventually replace biological hearts altogether. Their models used the hydronamic levitating impeller pump as a starting point. Using the patient’s blood as lubricant, the design helps ensure that moving parts do not touch, reducing friction and creating an end product with increased efficacy and durability.

In 2008, the team placed a total artificial heart inside a goat, which survived for 153 days. Using a pneumatically driven version, they were able to keep another goat alive for 532 days, the best performance of the device so far.

And that’s the beginning. The team believes they may be only months from creating an artificial heart that could completely replace a human heart for much longer than any other product available.

Using PTC Creo Parametric, the team at the University of Tokyo designed and modeled the complex compact heart digitally. They used the PTC Creo Simulate extension to test the performance of their 3D models (e.g., to evaluate fluid dynamics) well before moving into physical prototyping.

According to Isoyama, an assistant professor, “PTC Creo Simulate saves us a lot of time and rework as we identify and solve issues early. Using the software, we can take an analysis-led design approach, constantly optimizing the model as we get feedback from our digital testing.”

“It’s a team approach to design, with dedicated specialists working on the mechanical design, sensors, and electronics, and fluid flow,” Isoyama added. “Without a 3D model, you couldn’t visualize the shape, run simulations, and optimize a heart for the performance we’re after.”

The Total Artificial Heart Project is a perfect demonstration of how PTC Creo’s software suite can be used to make lives better — today.

Interested in learning more about PTC Creo and its 3D CAD capabilities? NxRev offers a variety of seminars, tutorials, and customer service to help users get the most out of PTC Creo Simulate, Parametric, Direct, and the rest of the PTC Creo suite. Give us a call at 408-986-0200 to find out more.