Theses: Master of Science in Cardiovascular Studies Program



Please click on a thesis title below for its abstract and more information.


Bell, Angela “Evaluation of platelet function assays: analysis of advantages, disadvantages and limitations in predicting bleeding”

May 2009, 152pp, 67 references, tables, figures, nomenclature

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Abstract: Clinicians, perfusionists, and all those involved in cardiopulmonary bypass and hemostatic management rely on platelet function assays to make clinical decisions. Such decisions might include the administration of pharmaceuticals or the use of various blood products — each of which has its own costs and risks associated with it. Therefore, it is critical that the data provided by the platelet function assays are accurate and used within the correct context.A brief review of the literature indicates that clinical decisions seldom take into account the shortcomings associated with the various platelet function tests in use, particularly the associated lack of sensitivity and specificity. Clinicians use the results from these tests to guide hemostatic management despite a lack of evidence supporting their use in this manner. This project was designed to investigate several platelet function assays currently on the market including their advantages, disadvantages, and most appropriate uses.It found that everything from the anticoagulant used to the method of collection may have a profound effect on the platelet function tests. This project summarizes the important considerations of each of the platelet function tests and provides recommendations for which assays to use in various situations. This project provides students, clinicians, and perfusionists with a concise guide to many platelet function assays currently available for use in hemostatic management and when they can be used effectively.

Cvikota, Daniel J. “Evaluation of Pericardial Effusions in a Community Hospital”

February 2016, 52pp

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Abstract: There is little published research on the systematic analysis of pericardial effusions, in part because of the scarcity of these specimens in a laboratory setting. When they are analyzed, fluid chemistries, microbiology cultures, and cytologic evaluation are common, and are aimed at contributing to the determination of the etiology of the effusion. There are, however, limitations to the diagnostic utility of each of these tools. For example, even the normal ranges for determination of fluid chemistries is still up for debate. A better understanding of the predictive nature of clinical laboratory tests and cytopathology of pericardial fluid would aid both diagnosis and treatment. The objective of this study was to retrospectively analyze a large cohort of pericardial fluid specimens collected at a single facility in order to determine the relative incidences of the etiologies, and the benefit of clinical laboratory tests and cytopathology evaluation in determining those etiologies.

After IRB approval, both the Powerchart database and Cerner CoPath anatomic pathology database were searched for all patients with a pericardial effusion evaluated at Memorial Medical Center in Springfield, Illinois over a five-year period spanning January 1, 2009 to December 31, 2013. Clinical history, clinical laboratory data, cytopathology reports and surgical pathology reports were retrospectively reviewed. The data were used to determine if the test results supported the diagnosis and if incidence rates were comparable to those previously published.

In this study, a total of 74 pericardial effusions were obtained, representing 2.7% of all 2,760 fluid specimens (pleural=1,909; ascites=777) processed by the cytopathology laboratory during the five-year timeframe. A combination of laboratory tests were used to help determine their etiology. Chemistries such as LDH and total protein were not routinely run on the pericardial fluid specimens in this study as they are generally not helpful in determining the etiology of these effusions, as many of the parameters overlap. Microbiologic cultures and cytologic evaluation were proven to be valuable tools as both show a high sensitivity for detecting infection and malignancy, respectively. Although cytology is superior to pericardial biopsy in detecting malignancy, the combination of cytopathology and surgical pathology often allowed for a more definitive diagnosis. Knowledge of the usefulness and limitations of the laboratory tests employed in the fluid analysis will allow the clinician to best determine the specific etiology of the effusion and tailor treatment. The rates and causes of malignant specimens in this study were similar to those previously published by others.

Kaczanowski, Tracy “Perioperative and early postoperative patient outcomes of robotic versus sternotomy mitral valve surgery : a retrospective study”

May 2010, 120pp

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Abstract: Mitral valve (MV) surgery is traditionally approached via median sternotomy. Robotic-assisted MV surgery is performed through smaller incisions and avoids the median sternotomy. By minimizing incisional trauma, robotic surgery is thought to yield superior patient outcomes to open sternotomy procedures. However, studies directly comparing patient outcomes of robotic and sternotomy MV surgeries are lacking in the literature. The purpose of this study is to provide a direct statistical comparison of short-term patient outcomes of robotic versus sternotomy MV surgeries at Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.Data were respectively obtained from the Society of Thoracic Surgeon’s database. All patients who underwent robotic MV surgery were included in the study (n=55). A cohort of patients who underwent MV surgery via sternotomy were retrospectively selected based on equivalence of demographic characteristics, comorbidities, and medical history (n=230). Patients who had robotic MV surgery experienced longer CPB and cross-clamp times; fewer transfusions of packed red blood cells, platelets, fresh frozen plazma, and cryoprecipitate; shorter length of stay; and possible a shorter ICU length of stay. There were no significant differences in mechanical ventilation time, 30-day mortality, renal complications, heart block, reoperation for bleeding, new-onset atrial fibrillation, stroke, or 30-day readmission.

Preston, James D. “Lumped Parameter Modeling of the Human Aorta during Aortomyoplasty Treatment”

May 2015, 82pp

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Abstract: The objective of this thesis is to report the results of a project entailing the design and testing of a mathematical model of the human aortic tree undergoing aortomyoplasty (AMP) treatment. AMP is a potential treatment for terminal heart failure, which produces a counterpulsation effect similar to that of the intra-aortic balloon pump (IABP). In AMP, skeletal muscle is wrapped around the outside of the patient’s aorta, and paced to contract in a rhythm of counterpulsation with the heart. The skeletal muscle squeezes the walls of the aorta inward, producing an occlusion effect similar to the inflation of the IABP.

This model was adapted from an earlier work by Richard Hillestad, wherein the aorta was modeled as a lumped parameter electrical system of resistance, inductance, and capacitance. In Hillestad’s paper, the electrical model of the aorta was constructed using physical electrical components, and the simulations consisted of running an electric current through the system and measuring the outputs.

The methods described in this thesis continued the work started by Hillestad. In this thesis, the ordinary differential state equations were derived for the lumped parameter model. These state equations were then encoded into a configurable set of routines in MATLAB. The MATLAB code is configurable, in that the researcher can easily vary several key components of the model, including the input pressure waveform; the resistance, compliance, and inertance; and the location and timing of the AMP treatment.

The results described in this thesis are promising. The state equations derived for the model produced similar results to the electric circuit built by Hillestad. The MATLAB routines also demonstrated the viability of this model to be configured for a variety of purposes. In addition, the modeling of AMP treatment was shown to be feasible using the framework of this model. More work will need to be done to ensure the accuracy of this model as an approximation of AMP treatment.

Riddle, Emily V. “A Retrospective Study of Patient Outcomes Following Transfusions with Either Fresh or Aged Packed Red Blood Cells”

Nov. 2007, 108pp, 52 references

  • Appendix A: Chi-Square Test: Fischer’s Exact Test of Postoperative Complications
  • Appendix B: Analysis of Variance Testing of Co-Morbidities
  • Appendix C: Variables of Stepwise Binary Logistic Regression

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Abstract: The argument of when to transfuse a patient has been, and still is, a controversial issue in operating rooms around the country. Over the past few decades much research has focused on problems that are associated with transfusions. These problems included the chance of disease transmission and transfusion reactions which were associated with human-error during blood typing. More recently, it has been noted that postoperative complication risk rises with the use of packed red blood cells (pRBCs). Some of this research has focused on the complications associated with the age of transfused pRBCs. Several studies have noted the changes that occur within the storage lesion can increase mortality rates, length of hospital stay, renal and pulmonary insufficiency and infection rates. This thesis focused on performing a retrospective study to investigate how the age of pRBCs correlated with postoperative complications. The study used data from coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) patients at Saint Luke’s Medical Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The age of pRBCs administered were compared to various postoperative complications. This study also involved determining which risk factors were the best predictors of postoperative pulmonary insufficiency, postoperative renal failure, mortality and cardiac arrest. Results indicated that the addition of pRBCs >= 14 days old increased a patient’s risk of developing pulmonary insufficiency by 2.3 times. It was also found that the addition of pRBCs>= 14 days old also increased a patient’s risk of developing renal failure, mortality, and cardiac arrest by 5.6 times. Outcomes from this research show that there is increased risk associated with the administration of older pRBCs; however, because the population size was small, stronger associations between the age of pRBCs transfused and postoperative complications could not be made.

Touroo, Jeremy S. “A Simulink Model of the Pediatric Cardiovascular System Following Stage I Surgical Palliation of Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndromes”

May 2008, 115pp, 72 references

  • Appendix A: Simulink Model Details: Top-Level System
  • Appendix B: Simulink Model Details: Heart and Vascular Subsystems
  • Appendix C: Simulink Model Details: Oxygen Calculations
  • Appendix D: Simulink Blocks

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Abstract: Hypoplastic left heart syndrome is a rare congenital heart abnormality that involves hypoplasia of left-sided cardiac structures such as the aortic valve, left ventricle, mitral valve, and ascending aorta, and the condition is unvaryingly fatal unless immediate treatment is provided. An alternative to complete cardiac transplantation is surgical reconstruction of the neonatal circulation performed in three separate stages. The intent of the initial surgical stage, referred to as the Norwood procedure, is to achieve adequate blood flow in both the systemic and pulmonary vascular beds with only one functional ventricle. The purpose of this study was to develop a comprehensible, software-based model of the Norwood circulation that can be used to improve understanding of the complex physiology resulting from the palliative operation. To accomplish this, a previously documented mathematical model of the Norwood circulation was implemented as a graphical user interface in Simulink, thus forming a user-friendly software environment for efficient quantitative and qualitative hemodynamic analysis. Published clinical data obtained from Norwood operation patients were utilized for model validation. Simulation of the Simulink model produced results that correlate well with the clinical data and with information found in the literature, indicating that the model is a valid tool for studying trends and behaviors associated with the Norwood circulation. Specifically, the model may be useful for analyzing hemodrynamic responses to various inputs, exploring prospective treatment methods prior to clinical experimentation, and comparing different surgical strategies. Additionally, the model may be an effective preoperative planning aid, particularly in a case consisting of unique or unfamiliar patient physiology. A further objective of this research was to adjust the Norwood model so that it represents the pediatric circulation following the Sano modification, which is an alternative option for first-stage palliation of hypoplastic left heart syndrome, and to simulate the experimental model as a preliminary investigation of system performance. The results of the simulation, which show consistency with pertinent research reports, imply that constructing a valid model of the Sano modification from the Simulink model of the Norwood circulation described in this study is a viable path for future research.

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