Innovative catheter + patch = a less invasive way of repairing congenital heart defects


How do you fix a hole in the heart without open heart surgery? That was the challenge facing a group of researchers from Boston Children’s Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and Wyss Institute. In a recent article for Science Translational Medicine, the team reports designing a catheter device that can implant an innovative patch/adhesive combo inside a beating heart.

The patch attaches to the heart wall via a specialized adhesive glue that is activated by UV light. Because the glue works when surrounded by blood, there is no need to drain the heart and place patients on bypass to perform the procedure.

Furthermore, the patch is biodegradable. Over time, heart tissue grows over the patch, and the patch itself dissolves when it is no longer needed. No foreign material is left in the body.

Pedro del Nido, MD, chief of the Division of Cardiac Surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital and one of the study’s authors, is enthusiastic about the implications of this innovation:

“The way the glue works in the face of blood is revolutionary. We don’t have to stop the heart. This will enable a wide range of cardiac procedures in the future. In addition to avoiding open heart surgery, this method avoids suturing into the heart tissue, because we’re just gluing something to it.”

Read more about the catheter and patch on our sister blog, Vector.

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