Passive aortic counterpulsation: Biomechanical rationale and bench validation

Ivan Corazza, David Bianchini, Emanuela Marcelli, Laura Cercenelli, Romano Zannoli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aortic counterpulsation (IABP) consists in an ECG-controlled forced deflation and inflation of a balloon positioned in the aorta. The device is designed to decrease the ventricular afterload during systole and to increase the coronary driving pressure during diastole. In biomechanical terms, the IABP improves the mechanical matching between the pump and the load, facilitating the transfer of ventricular energy. This paper describes a completely passive aortic counterpulsation solution, with an intra-aortic balloon without a pumping system, designed to improve the mechanical matching between the ventricle and the artery at very low cost and complexity. The only requirement is an external reservoir to amplify the balloon pulsations due to physiologic arterial pressure pulse.Using a cardiovascular simulator and changing the reservoir pressure, a systolic not negligible (7.8. ml) gas volume exchange between the intra-aortic balloon and the reservoir was measured. The same cardiovascular simulator was used to demonstrate an increase in stroke volume in three conditions of progressive ventricular failure, by detecting a change in systolic and diastolic arterial pressures and stroke volume (SV). The maximal arterial pressure always decreased and the diastolic pressure increased. The SV increased up to 7.8%, demonstrating an arterial elastance reduction and better ventricular-aortic mechanical matching and energy transfer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1618-1625
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - May 7 2014


  • Aortoventricular matching
  • IABP
  • VAD
  • Ventricular elastance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Rehabilitation
  • Biophysics
  • Biomedical Engineering


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