Development of a high-fidelity cardiac surgery simulator (CSS) requires integration of a heart model with a mock cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB) circuit that can provide feedback to mimic the pathophysiology of cardiac surgery. However, the cost of commercially available simulators precludes regular use. We describe steps in the construction of a high-fidelity CSS that integrates a pulsatile paracorporeal ventricular-assist device (Pulse-VAD) and a commercially available CPB simulator.
Eight porcine hearts were initially prepared. The configuration consisted of cannulation of the distal descending aorta and the inferior vena cava to enable pressurization of the heart after connection to the Califia® simulator, as well as Pulse-VAD cannulation (fitted with inflatable balloons) of both ventricles. After each simulation run, the team addressed key issues to derive successive model changes through consensus. Key modifications included: a) pressure maintenance of the cardiac chambers (removal of lungs, Pulse-VAD cannulation sites at the left pulmonary artery and vein, double ligation of arch vessels); b) high-fidelity beating of both ventricles (full Pulse-VAD bladder filling and ensuring balloon neck placement at the valvular plane) and c) reproducible management of porcine anatomy (management of porcine aorta, ligation of left azygous vein and shortened ascending thoracic aortic segment).
A CSS can be prepared at low cost, with integration into a high-fidelity CPB simulator with a novel beating heart component. This setup can be used in teaching the basics of CPB techniques and complex surgical procedures. Future work is needed to validate this model as a simulation instrument.