Reply to the editor

Pirbodaghi, Tohid; Axiak, Shannon; Weber, Alberto; Vandenberghe, Stijn (2013). Reply to the editor. Journal of thoracic and cardiovascular surgery, 145(4), pp. 1145-1146. Mosby 10.1016/j.jtcvs.2012.12.075

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We appreciate the comments and concerns expressed by Arakawa and colleagues regarding our article, titled “Pulsatile control of rotary blood pumps: Does the modulation waveform matter?”1

Unfortunately, we have to disagree with Arakawa and colleagues. As is obvious from the title of our article, it investigates the effect of different waveforms on the heart–device interaction. In contrast to the authors' claim, this is the first article in the literature that uses basic waveforms (sine, triangle, saw tooth, and rectangular) with different phase shifts to examines their impact on left ventricular unloading. The previous publications2, 3 and 4 just varied the pump speed during systole and diastole, which was first reported by Bearnson and associates5 in 1996, and studied its effect on aortic pressure, coronary flow, and end-diastolic volume. We should mention that dp/dtmax is a load-sensitive parameter of contractility and not representative for the degree of unloading. Moreover, none of the aforementioned reports has studied mechanical unloading and in particular the stroke work of the left ventricle. Our method is unique because we do not just alternate between high and low speed but have accurate control of the waveform because of the direct drive system of Levitronix Technologies LLC (Waltham, Mass) and a custom-developed pump controller.

Without referring, Arakawa and associates state “several previous studies have already reported the coronary flow diminishes as the left ventricular assist device support increases.” It should be noted that all the waveforms used in our study have 2000 rpm average value with 1000 rpm amplitude, which is not an excessive speed for the CentriMag rotary pump (Levitronix) to collapse the ventricle and diminish the coronary flow.

We agree with Arakawa and coworkers that there is a need for a heart failure model to come to more relevant results with respect to clinical expectations. However, we have explored many existing models, including species and breeds that have a native proneness to cardiomyopathy, but all of them differ from the genetic presentation in humans. We certainly do not believe that the use of microembolization, in which the coronary circulation is impaired by the injection of microspheres, would form a good model from which to draw conclusions about coronary flow change under different loading conditions. A model would be needed in which either an infarct is created to mimic ischemic heart failure or the coronary circulation remains untouched to simulate, for instance, dilated cardiomyopathy. Furthermore, in discussion we clearly mention that “lack of heart failure is a major limitation of our study.”

We also believe that unloading is not the only factor of the cardiac functional recovery, and an excessive unloading of the left ventricle might lead to cardiac tissue atrophy. Therefore, in our article we mention that control of the level of cardiac unloading by assist devices has been suggested as a mechanical tool to promote recovery, and more studies are required to find better strategies for the speed modulation of rotary pumps and to achieve an optimal heart load control to enhance myocardial recovery.

Finally, there are many publications about pulsing rotary blood pumps and it was impossible to include them all. We preferred to reference some of the earlier basic works such as an original research by Bearnson and coworkers5 and another article published by our group,6 which is more relevant.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Further Contribution)


05 Veterinary Medicine > Department of Clinical Veterinary Medicine (DKV) > DKV - Anaesthesiology
10 Strategic Research Centers > ARTORG Center for Biomedical Engineering Research > ARTORG Center - Cardiovascular Engineering (CVE)

UniBE Contributor:

Pirbodaghi, Tohid, Axiak, Shannon, Vandenberghe, Stijn


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health








Francesco Clavica

Date Deposited:

10 Apr 2014 00:33

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 14:32

Publisher DOI:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

Animals,Female,Heart-Assist Devices,Pulsatile Flow,Ventricular Function, Left


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