Centrifuge-Simulated Spaceflight After Aortic Valve Replacement and Atrial Septal Defect Repair

William L. Fernandez, Rebecca S. Blue, Michael F. Harrison, William Powers, Ronak Shah, Serena Auñón-Chancellor

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    INTRODUCTION: Human access to space is expanding rapidly in the commercial environment, with various private companies offering commercial flights to spaceflight participants (SFPs). SFPs are more likely than career astronauts to have medical conditions novel to spaceflight and may not have undergone as rigorous a medical screening process as that used for career astronauts, representing new and unstudied risks in the spaceflight environment. We report participation of a subject with recent median sternotomy for aortic valve replacement and atrial septal defect closure in centrifuge-simulated dynamic phases of orbital and suborbital spaceflight. CASE REPORT: A 40-yr-old man with a history of congenital bicuspid aortic valve and atrial septal defect with successful repair 8 mo prior participated in an ongoing human centrifuge research study. The subject had the opportunity to participate in up to five centrifuge runs in an 8-h period, with profiles simulating commercial spaceflight. Maximum exposures included +4.0 Gz, +4.5 Gx, 6.1 G resultant, and maximum onset rate < 0.5 Gz · s−1 and +1 Gx · s−1. Physiological data acquisition included hemodynamics, electrocardiogram, neurovestibular exams, and postrun questionnaires covering motion sickness, disorientation, and similar. The subject tolerated the physiological aspects of hypergravity well, noting progressive sternal pain with increasing +Gx, ultimately leading him to opt out of the final profile. DISCUSSION: Postcardiothoracic surgery risks to SFPs are largely unknown, especially within 12 mo of a significant surgical procedure. This case provides an approach for risk stratification, preparticipation evaluation, and medical management of a postsurgical patient with significant cardiac history in spaceflight and analog environments.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)123-131
    Number of pages9
    JournalAerospace Medicine and Human Performance
    Issue number2
    StatePublished - 2024


    • acceleration
    • atrial septal defect
    • commercial spaceflight
    • human centrifuge
    • open heart surgery
    • patent foramen ovale

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Medicine (miscellaneous)
    • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


    Dive into the research topics of 'Centrifuge-Simulated Spaceflight After Aortic Valve Replacement and Atrial Septal Defect Repair'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this