Oxygen-transfer performance of a newly designed, very low-volume membrane oxygenator

Interact Cardiovasc Thorac Surg. 2015 Sep;21(3):352-8. doi: 10.1093/icvts/ivv141. Epub 2015 Jun 1.


Objectives: Oxygenation of blood and other physiological solutions are routinely required in fundamental research for both in vitro and in vivo experimentation. However, very few oxygenators with suitable priming volumes (<2-3 ml) are available for surgery in small animals. We have designed a new, miniaturized membrane oxygenator and investigated the oxygen-transfer performance using both buffer and blood perfusates.

Methods: The mini-oxygenator was designed with a central perforated core-tube surrounded by parallel-oriented microporous polypropylene hollow fibres, placed inside a hollow shell with a lateral-luer outlet, and sealed at both extremities. With this design, perfusate is delivered via the core-tube to the centre of the mini-oxygenator, and exits via the luer port. A series of mini-oxygenators were constructed and tested in an in vitro perfusion circuit by monitoring oxygen transfer using modified Krebs-Henseleit buffer or whole porcine blood. Effects of perfusion pressure and temperature over flows of 5-60 ml × min(-1) were assessed.

Results: Twelve mini-oxygenators with a mean priming volume of 1.5 ± 0.3 ml were evaluated. With buffer, oxygen transfer reached a maximum of 14.8 ± 1.0 ml O2 × l(-1) (pO2: 450 ± 32 mmHg) at perfusate flow rates of 5 ml × min(-1) and decreased with an increase in perfusate flow to 7.8 ± 0.7 ml ml O2 × l(-1) (pO2: 219 ± 24 mmHg) at 60 ml × min(-1). Similarly, with blood perfusate, oxygen transfer also decreased as perfusate flow increased, ranging from 33 ± 5 ml O2 × l(-1) at 5 ml × min(-1) to 11 ± 2 ml O2 × l(-1) at 60 ml × min(-1). Furthermore, oxygen transfer capacity remained stable with blood perfusion over a period of at least 2 h.

Conclusions: We have developed a new miniaturized membrane oxygenator with an ultra-low priming volume (<2 ml) and adequate oxygenation performance. This oxygenator may be of use in overcoming current limitations in equipment size for effective oxygenation in low-volume perfusion circuits, such as small animal extracorporeal circulation and ex vivo organ perfusion.

Keywords: Blood oxygenation; Isolated perfused organ; Mini-oxygenator; Miniaturized membrane oxygenator; Small animal extracorporeal circulation; Small animal model.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carbon Dioxide / blood
  • Cardiac Surgical Procedures / methods*
  • Equipment Design
  • Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation / instrumentation*
  • Heart Diseases / blood*
  • Heart Diseases / surgery
  • Miniaturization
  • Oxygen / blood*
  • Oxygenators, Membrane*
  • Swine


  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Oxygen