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Magnetically Levitated Heart Pump Being Tested at UW Hospital

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Heart and Vascular Care

MADISON - A new generation of heart pumps has something in common with "bullet trains": Just as magnets levitate the trains to reduce friction, magnets levitate the fins of the heart's pump, a feature that should result in longer life and fewer side effects for patients.


University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics is one of about 30 medical centers that have begun a federally funded test of the new, third-generation left ventricular assist device (VAD), known by the trade name "DuraHeart LVAD." Because a failing heart cannot pump enough blood, the device helps the heart's left ventricle pump oxygenated blood out to the body.


Takushi Kohmoto, MD, is the principal investigator from UW Hospital and Clinics and Lucian Lozonschi, MD, leads the study team from the affiliated William S. Middleton Veterans Hospital in Madison.


The two UW cardiothoracic surgeons, cited for having the best outcomes in the country, are part of a team that implanted 26 VADs and transplanted 20 hearts last year. They think this newest heart pump will offer some improvements to patients with heart failure, including longer wear, and fewer parts that can cause blood clots to form.


"The fins float inside the rotor on a magnetic field, meaning that there is no friction," says Dr. Kohmoto, assistant professor of surgery. "We hope this means it will last longer."Share This Story


Dr. Lozonschi says that because the pump adjusts its output to blood pressure and volume, it should be closer to the natural operation of the heart.

"If a patient is walking upstairs and the blood pressure increases, the Duraheart will pump more blood," he says.

While the DuraHeart trial is just beginning in the United States, it has been underway in Europe for several years, and some patients have had the pumps for more than four years. DuraHeart is being studied as a "bridge" device, meaning it keeps patients alive while they await heart transplants.


DuraHeart is manufactured by Michigan-based Terumo Heart Inc., a subsidiary of Japan’s Terumo Corp. Its system incorporates a centrifugal flow rotary pump with electromagnetic coils that suspend the impeller inside the pump chamber.

For more information on the UW DuraHeart Clinical Trial, call the Heart Failure program at 608-263-1690. For more detailed information about the nationwide DuraHeart Bridge-to-Transplant Trial, visit, and for more information about the DuraHeart LVAS, visit