Pressure Testing Intra-aortic Balloon Catheters

The intra-aortic balloon pump (IABP) is a mechanical device that assists the human heart in pumping blood by decreasing myocardial oxygen demand and increasing the cardiac output. The device is inserted into the aorta. It consists of a long, thin tube called a catheter with a balloon on the end of it.

The balloon is inflated by a computer-controlled mechanism, usually linked to either an ECG or a pressure sensor at the distal tip of the catheter.  The computer controls the flow of helium from a cylinder into and out of the balloon.


Medical companies that design and manufacture IAB catheters need to test the pressure sensor, which is a key element of the catheter and in turn the entire IABP system. The pressure sensor usually needs to be tested as part of the complete assembly or tray, which is typically the package used to transit the IABP to the medical facility. In order to perform this test, the entire tray assembly needs to be placed in a large volume test chamber.

The challenge is to efficiently cycle the pressure inside the sensor to simulate human blood pressure with multiple set points within the sensor range while pressurizing the complete test chamber. This often requires a customized pressure controller with maximum accuracy in low pressures up to 20 psi absolute with the ability to control pressures in larger volumes (several liters) without slowing down the pressure test cycle for maximum throughput.

Mensor is able to overcome these challenges by offering various standard pressure controllers that are capable of controlling pressure as low as 10 inches of H2O in control volumes as large as 1 liter. For applications with larger control volumes, Mensor provides custom solutions like the pressure controllers Model 9417 and Model 9424, which are specifically engineered to user’s application for stable pressure control in larger volumes. Download the Custom Systems Brochure

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