Development of an implantable system to measure the pressure-volume relationship in ambulatory rodent hearts
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The design, fabrication, and in-vivo testing of an implantable device to measure the pressure-volume (PV) relationship in the hearts of conscious, untethered rats is presented. Volume is measured using a tetrapolar catheter positioned in the left-ventricle which emits a 20kHz current field across the LV blood pool and parallel heart tissue and measures the resulting voltage. The admittance method is used to instantaneously remove the contribution of the parallel heart muscle and Wei’s non-linear blood conductance-to-volume equation is used to calculate volume. Pressure is measured with a strain gauge sensor at the tip of the catheter. The implant was designed to be small, light, and low-power. An average implant occupies 5 cm3, weighs 8g, and on a single charge collects data for 2 months taking 43 samples per day. Collected data is transmitted wirelessly via RF to a base station where it is recorded. The functionality of the implant and measurement system was verified in six rat experiments. In all experiments, ambulatory PV loops were measured on implantation day. Viable pressure data was recorded for 11 days in one rat; in another rat viable admittance data was collected for 10 days. Changing catheter position and non-constant blood resistivity are considered as sources of error in the volume measurement. Pressure drift due to changing atmospheric pressure is considered as a source of error in the pressure measurement. Lastly, alternative uses for the implant and directions for future improvement are considered.