The Beat Goes on for Pig Heart

May 14, 2009
By Chris Richter

The heart you see in the video above is hooked up to a machine developed by Andrew Richards ’08 MS, who’s currently a mechanical engineering doctoral student. It’s a pig heart, and, yes, it’s beating. Richards’ machine should help to speed up the development of “new tools and techniques for heart surgery.”

Currently, most medical device prototypes designed for use in heart surgery are tested on live pigs, which have heart valves that are anatomically similar to human heart valves. However, these tests are both expensive and time-consuming, and involve a lengthy permission process to ensure that the use of live animals is necessary. So, researchers at NC State have developed a “dynamic heart system” – a machine that pumps fluid through a pig heart so that it functions in a very realistic way.

Update: The N&O writes about the device in a front-page story.


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