Mechanical circulatory support devices have gained significant importance in recent years as a viable therapeutic option to support paediatric population and children with single functional ventricle. The Fontan operation helps to reroute the deoxygenated blood to the lungs by bypassing the dysfunctional right ventricle. Total Cavopulmonary Connection (TCPC) is usually a method opted by the clinicians to connect the superior vena cava (SVC) and inferior vena cava (IVC) to the left and right pulmonary artery (LPA and RPA). However, the non-physiologic flow patterns created by the Fontan procedure leads to an increase in chances of platelet deposition and pressure loss which calls for heart transplantation to prevent early and late stage pathophysiology. This had led to modification of TCPC geometry to reduce the pressure and energy loss and thereby unload the single functional ventricle to ensure longer survival period. A study on mechanical circulatory device in conjunction with the modified TCPC geometry has seen little exposure and has opened new gates to develop a variety of state-of-art cavopulmonary assist devices. This study is focused on the selection of optimal TCPC to reduce energy loss and the effect of stent inside the modified TCPC on hemodynamics and flow structures.
Four TCPC connections, developed for a particular age group of children, were studied for the velocity field, overall pressure and energy loss. In addition, the four TCPC connection geometries were also studied for distribution of hepatic blood from the IVC to both pulmonary arteries, and hence the lungs, to prevent development of any arteriovenous malformations. The entire stent assembly mounted inside the two best performing TCPC connections was examined for the hemodynamic effects using a series of 3D-CFD simulations.
The curved-type connection for the TCPC proved to provide minimum pressure and energy loss along with reduced traces of vortex and recirculation. However, it was not efficient in terms of hepatic blood distribution. The flared geometry performed second best in terms of both minimum power loss and even hepatic blood distribution. There was a slight difference in power loss between the flared and the curved TCPC configuration with stent but the flared geometry had better hepatic blood distribution.
This study demonstrated that a stent in conjunction with a TCPC leads to development of a helical flow pattern which provides better mixing of blood and even distribution to both the pulmonary arteries. The design of a stent with the best performing flared TCPC configuration can be optimized to reduce the amount of power loss and vortex generation and can be used to design similar scaled models for paediatric population of various age groups.