New Heart Valves: Gentle to the Blood and Extra Durable

Both doctoral candidates from the RWTH Institute of Medical Technology, Dipl.-Ing. Maximilian Kütting and Dipl.-Ing. Ingo Nadzeyka (from left) were honored with the Polyurethane Innovation Award by the Chair of the FSK Albrecht Manderscheid. Copyright: ©

Heart valves must be persistent and reliable: The human hearts beats about 90000 times a day. With this continuous operation, heart valves can constrict or become leaky over the course of life. The only effective therapy is substitution with a prosthetic. Over 200000 heart valves were implanted worldwide in 2009. Until now, mechanical prosthetics made of carbon and biologically from cow hearts or pig heart valves have mostly substituted the diseased organ parts. Engineers Maximilian Kütting and Ingo Nadzeyka from the Institute of Applied Medical Technology have developed a heart valve made out of polyurethane, that theoretically combines the advantages of the biological and mechanical heart valves without their weaknesses. This idea has been distinguished by the Specialist Association Foamed Plastics and Polyurethanes, FSK for short, with the Polyurethane Innovation Award.


Firsts Tests Successfully Completed

The polyurethane heart valve combines the positive characterstics of the existing implants, and can show less damage to blood and a high fatigue limit. Through the use of an innovative production process, it was possible to use a biomimetic material, that is a material very biologically similar, out of polyurethane for the valve claps of the prosthetic. The material distinguishes itself through a sandwich structure with a fiber coat and a film coat, that are firmly bondeded and cannot be separated. Through the combination of both layers, a high fatigue limit of the material and a low tendency to tear are attained.

The heart valve made of polyurethane attained a durability of 100 million cycles without damage during a stress test. The material used has already been investigated in in-vivo investigations for its suitability to be implemented in the bloodsystem and demonstrated outstanding results. Additional tests are currently being developed.

Award for Junior Researchers

The Polyurethane Innovation Award was awarded for the eighth time this year. The FSK honors junior researchers, who have new technically promising ideas that have not yet been introduced to the market. The award is endowed with 1500 Euros.