Open heart surgery not always necessary thanks to tiny heart pump - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

4/24/09

Open heart surgery not always necessary thanks to tiny heart pump

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LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - The world's smallest heart pump is helping patients across the country.  It's not in Lubbock yet, but at Baylor Medical Center in Dallas, they're using a new procedure that might revolutionize heart surgery.  Some patients, who have blocked arteries and are facing by-pass surgery, are instead benefiting by this new device called the "Impella".  Cardiologist, Dr. Robert Stoler, of Baylor Medical Center, said of the device, "And it helps to continue blood flow to the vital organs and to the body in the event that the patient's heart would start to fail".

The device is so small it is threaded through an artery up into the heart itself.  It's powerful enough, though, to pump 2 ½ liters of blood every minute.  While the pump does its work, easing the workload on the patient's heart, the doctor opens the blockages using traditional balloon angioplasty and the placement of stents.  When the operation is finished, the pump is removed and since the chest was never opened, recovery is much faster.  Dr. Stoler says that instead of open-heart surgery, which can keep patients in the hospital for about a week, the Impella allows him to go home after just one night. 

We checked around and could not find any doctors using this procedure here yet, but we'll keep you posted.

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