Biotechnology and Bioengineering, Vol.118, No.1, 345-356, 2021
Development of a novel intravascular oxygenator catheter: Oxygen mass transfer properties across nonporous hollow fiber membranes
Despite hypoxic respiratory failure representing a large portion of total hospitalizations and healthcare spending worldwide, therapeutic options beyond mechanical ventilation are limited. We demonstrate the technical feasibility of providing oxygen to a bulk medium, such as blood, via diffusion across nonporous hollow fiber membranes (HFMs) using hyperbaric oxygen. The oxygen transfer across Teflon (R) membranes was characterized at oxygen pressures up to 2 bars in both a stirred tank vessel (CSTR) and a tubular device mimicking intravenous application. Fluxes over 550 ml min(-1) m(-2)were observed in well-mixed systems, and just over 350 ml min(-1) m(-2)in flow through tubular systems. Oxygen flux was proportional to the oxygen partial pressure inside the HFM over the tested range and increased with mixing of the bulk liquid. Some bubbles were observed at the higher pressures (1.9 bar) and when bulk liquid dissolved oxygen concentrations were high. High-frequency ultrasound was applied to detect and count individual bubbles, but no increase from background levels was detected during lower pressure operation. A conceptual model of the oxygen transport was developed and validated. Model parametric sensitivity studies demonstrated that diffusion through the thin fiber walls was a significant resistance to mass transfer, and that promoting convection around the fibers should enable physiologically relevant oxygen supply. This study indicates that a device is within reach that is capable of delivering greater than 10% of a patient's basal oxygen needs in a configuration that readily fits intravascularly.