Stories about: congenital heart defects

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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Expert’s Corner: A closer look at stress echoes for children

children exercise congenital heart defect echocardiography
(Pan Xunbin/Shutterstock)

Surgery in infancy or childhood can often correct even the most complex congenital heart defects (CHD). But there is no such thing as a complete repair of a defect. Even after surgery, the heart of a child with CHD will never be completely normal; there will always be residual issues.

As patients grow, pediatric cardiologists have to figure out how their uniquely abnormal hearts function differently than anatomically correct hearts. While an echocardiogram works fine while a patient is lying down, children are always active and moving. How do doctors know whether enough blood flow is getting to the heart while their patients are walking to school, doing chores or playing sports?

Invasive tests such as coronary angiography can provide this insight, as can nuclear imaging, which is non-invasive but involves a high dose of radiation (just one nuclear imaging scan has the same amount of radiation as about 500 chest x-rays). There is another alternative, however—one that requires no radiation, is non-invasive, and doesn’t even require the child to be stuck by a needle: exercise stress echocardiography (ESE). …Read More

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