December 3, 2008

Oil and blood pumping have similarities

U.S. medical and energy experts say they are exploring synergies that have been identified in moving oil and pumping blood.

The second annual Pumps & Pipes conference Monday will bring scientists and engineers together at the University of Houston, to discuss the similarities.

Organizers said much like moving oil through a pipeline, the heart must pump blood through the body. Both systems need clean, well-functioning pipes (or blood vessels), free of blockages or corrosion, to efficiently function. And, both industries also are crucial to the nation's economy and future.

I strongly believe the solutions to many of our problems already exist in 'someone else's toolbox,' but a forum is required to bring together this expertise, said Dr. Alan Lumsden, chairman of cardiovascular surgery at The Methodist Hospital System in Houston.

Lumsden said the conference will engage engineers from the energy industry with cardiovascular physicians who share common goals: using imaging to identify targets, navigate catheters and drills into those targets, maintain flow in pipelines and blood vessels, prevent these tubes from clogging, repair them when they break down and improve the pumps when the pressure fails.

The conference is sponsored by ExxonMobil, the Methodist DeBakey Heart & Vascular Center and the university.