In-Vitro Visualization of Thrombus Growth in Artificial Lungs Using Real-Time X-Ray Imaging: A Feasibility Study

Andreas Kaesler, Freya Lilli Rudawski, Mark Oliver Zander, Felix Hesselmann, Isaac Pinar, Thomas Schmitz-Rode, Jutta Arens, Ulrich Steinseifer, Johanna Clauser*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
84 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose <jats:p/>Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation has gained increasing attention in the treatment of patients with acute and chronic cardiopulmonary and respiratory failure. However, clotting within the oxygenators or other components of the extracorporeal circuit remains a major complication that necessitates at least a device exchange and bears risks of adverse events for the patients. In order to better predict thrombus growth within oxygenators, we present an approach for in-vitro visualization of thrombus growth using real-time X-ray imaging. Methods <jats:p/>An in-vitro test setup was developed using low-dose anticoagulated ovine blood and allowing for thrombus growth within 4 h. The setup was installed in a custom-made X-ray setup that uses phase-contrast for imaging, thus providing enhanced soft-tissue contrast, which improves the differentiation between blood and potential thrombus growth. During experimentation, blood samples were drawn for the analysis of blood count, activated partial thromboplastin time and activated clotting time. Additionally, pressure and flow data was monitored and a full 360° X-ray scan was performed every 15 min. Results <jats:p/>Thrombus formation indicated by a pressure drop and changing blood parameters was monitored in all three test devices. Red and white thrombi (higher/lower attenuation, respectively) were successfully segmented in one set of X-ray images. Conclusion <jats:p/>We showed the feasibility of a new in-vitro method for real-time thrombus growth visualization by means of phase contrast X-ray imaging. In addition, with more blood parameters that are clinically relevant, this approach might contribute to improved oxygenator exchange protocols in the clinical routine.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)318–330
Number of pages13
JournalCardiovascular engineering and technology
Issue number2
Early online date16 Sept 2021
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2022


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