The aim of this study is to investigate the intravascular application of a micro-electro-mechanical system (MEMS) pressure sensor to directly measure the hemodynamic characteristics of a ventricular assist device (VAD). A bio- and hemo-compatible packaging strategy is implemented, based on a ceramic thick film process. A commercial sub-millimeter piezoresistive sensor is attached to an alumina substrate, and a double coating of polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) and parylene-C is applied. The final size of the packaged device is 2.6 mm by 3.6 mm by 1.8 mm. A prototype electronic circuit for conditioning and read-out of the pressure signal is developed, satisfying the VAD-specific requirements of low power consumption (less than 14.5 mW in continuous mode) and small form factor. The packaged sensor has been submitted to extensive in vitro tests. The device displayed a temperature-independent sensitivity (12
V/V/mmHg) and good in vitro stability when exposed to the continuous flow of saline solution (less than 0.05 mmHg/day drift after 50 h). During in vivo validation, the transducer has been successfully used to record the arterial pressure waveform of a female sheep. A small, intravascular sensor to continuously register the blood pressure at the inflow and the outflow of a VAD is developed and successfully validated in vivo.
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