A Pumpless Microfluidic Neonatal Lung Assist Device for Support of Preterm Neonates in Respiratory Distress

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Premature neonates suffer from respiratory morbidity as their lungs are immature and current supportive treatment such as mechanical ventilation or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) cause iatrogenic injuries.

A non-invasive and biomimetic concept known as the “artificial placenta” would be beneficial to overcome complications associated with the current respiratory support of preterm infants. Here, a pumpless oxygenator connected to the systemic circulation supports the lung function to relieve respiratory distress.

In this paper, we demonstrate the first successful operation of a microfluidic, artificial placenta type neonatal lung assist device (LAD) on a newborn piglet model which is the closest representation of preterm human infants. This LAD has high oxygenation capability in both pure oxygen and room air as the sweep gas.

It was able to relieve the respiratory distress that the newborn piglet was put under during experimentation, repeatedly and over significant duration of time. These findings indicate that this LAD has potential application as a biomimetic artificial placenta to support respiratory needs of preterm neonates.

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