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October 1972

Nuclear-Fueled Circulatory Support Systems

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Surgery, Harvard Medical School, Boston.

Arch Surg. 1972;105(4):645-647. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1972.04180100088021

Nuclear-fueled circulatory assist devices are being developed by a number of industrial and academic research groups in collaboration with the National Heart and Lung Institute. The current nuclear-powered circulatory assist devices consist of two components: a left ventricular assist device and a nuclear-fueled thermal engine which utilizes the concept wherein a fraction of the radioisotopic heat of decay from 238Pu is converted into hydraulic power. These units have reached the phase of initial in vivo animal testing. Although multiple problems remain to be solved, it is possible that nuclearpowered circulatory support systems will become clinical realities within this decade.