The artificial heart, a mechanical heart replacement, is typically used in order to bridge the time to heart transplant or to replace the heart in case a transplant is impossible. Often ventricular assist devices are confused with mechanical hearts because the assist the heart through pumps. They are also different from a cardiopulmonary bypass machine which is an external device used to provide the function of the heart and lungs. CPBs are usually only used for a few hours at a time, commonly during heart surgery.
SynCardia temporary Total Artificial Heart was the first FDA-approved artificial heart. After a 10 year clinical study the heart was approved by the FDA in 2004. The artificial heart was originally designed as a permanent replacement but is currently approved as a bridge to human heart transplant.
79% of patients receiving the Total Artificial Heart survived the transplant during the 10 year study. This is the highest bridge-to-transplant for any heart device in the world.
AbioCor Replacement Heart by Abiomed is fully implantable meaning that no wires or tubes penetrate the skin and therefore there is less risk of infection. Abiocor is used for severe biventricular end-stage heart disease patients who are not eligible for heart transplant and have no other treatment options.
The synthetic heart replacement has been long sought after due to the demand for organs always greatly exceeding supply. Even though the heart is conceptually simple it is hard to emulate with synthetic materials and power supplies. The body rejecting the heart and batteries that limit mobility are just a few of the compatibility problems.
Dr. John Heysham Gibbon invented a machine in 1953 that was a heart-lung substitute that he used to perform an operation. The first successful machine heart was used in 1952 by Henry Opitek.