Life Science


System for training in cardiac surgery and interventional cardiology
Riccardo Vismara, Gianfranco B. Fiore, Alberto Redaelli – Department of Electronics, Information and Bioengineering

Politecnico di Milano, in collaboration with the University of Milan, has recently patented a system aimed at the training of surgeons or cardiologists in cardiac interventions and surgical procedures. This system is a compact and easy-handled apparatus capable of replicating the opening/closing movements of the heart valves, thus allowing training procedures to be carried out in a highly realistic environment. The device is particularly suitable for the evaluation of new intervention techniques and new intracardiac devices also for a minimally invasive and transcatheter implant.

The system is able to accommodate an entire heart of animal origin (e.g. a porcine heart discharged from the food industry) or an entirely artificial model heart, and to control it hydraulically to replicate the realistic dynamics of the mitral and aortic valves, (as well as the tricuspid and pulmonary valves, if desired).

The actuation system consists of 5 main components:

  • A controlled pumping system, featuring higher reliability, ease of use and compactness with respect to the systems that are typically used in similar apparatuses.
  • A system of active valves that directs the flow rate generated by the pump to simulate the cardiac pulse.
  • A whole animal heart (or artificial model) connected to the hydraulic system.
  • A hydraulic system generating the hydraulic preload and afterload, that makes a closed circuit with the heart sample. Such circuit is more reliable, easy-to-use and compact with respect to the standard solutions.
  • A control system comprising, g. a touchscreen to adjust the working parameters of the system.

In particular, the hydraulic configuration combining the pumping system, active valves and closed preload/afterload circuit is the new feature that make this device innovative with respect to the standard solutions.

The technical solutions adopted allow for replicating the dynamics of the heart sub-structures in an inexpensive and compact device, simple to manage (also by non-engineering personnel) with low costs, suitable for standard imaging techniques (fluoroscopy, fibroscopy, echocardiography, Doppler imaging).

The technological level of the device is a working prototype. It has been successfully used for demonstration purposes at the “PCR London Valves” Congress in September 2017.