Ventricular assist devices (VADs) are implanted in patients with a diseased ventricle to maintain peripheral perfusion as a bridge-to-transplant or as destination therapy. However, some patients with continuous flow VADs (e.g., HeartMate II (HMII)) have experienced gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding, in part caused by the proteolytic cleavage or mechanical destruction of von Willebrand factor (vWF), a clotting glycoprotein. in vitro studies were performed to measure the flow located within the HMII outlet cannula under both steady and physiological conditions using particle image velocimetry (PIV). Under steady flow, a mock flow loop was used with the HMII producing a flow rate of 3.2 L/min. The physiological experiment included a pulsatile pump operated at 105 BPM with a ventricle filling volume of 50 mL and in conjunction with the HMII producing a total flow rate of 5.0 L/min. Velocity fields, Reynolds normal stresses (RNSs), and Reynolds shear stresses (RSSs) were analyzed to quantify the outlet flow's potential contribution to vWF degradation. Under both flow conditions, the HMII generated principal Reynolds stresses that are, at times, orders of magnitude higher than those needed to unfurl vWF, potentially impacting its physiological function. Under steady flow, principal RNSs were calculated to be approximately 500 Pa in the outlet cannula. Elevated Reynolds stresses were observed throughout every phase of the cardiac cycle under physiological flow with principal RNSs approaching 1500 Pa during peak systole. Prolonged exposure to these conditions may lead to acquired von Willebrand syndrome (AvWS), which is accompanied by uncontrollable bleeding episodes.

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