Efforts to make open-heart surgery a minimally invasive procedure have earned a five-year, $5 million National Institutes of Health Bioengineering Research Partnership award. Professor Pierre Dupont of Boston Universitys College of Engineering, cardiac surgeon Pedro del Nido, M.D., at Childrens Hospital Boston/Harvard Medical School, and microdevice manufacturer Microfabrica Inc. (Van Nuys, CA) will collaborate to develop instruments and procedures that promise to bring the precision of conventional open-heart surgery to minimally invasive instruments and tools, allowing complex surgical repairs to be made while the heart is still beating.
To perform repairs inside the heart, there are two approaches open heart surgery and catheter interventions, Dupont said. With catheters, you dont have to place the patient on a heart-lung machine or cut the chest and heart open. But in comparison with open heart surgery, what you can actually do with a catheter is limited. Were trying to incorporate the best of both approaches. We want to produce instruments that are as minimally invasive as catheters, but which provide the precision and control of open-heart surgery.
Under the grant from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the team is developing robotic instruments that could extend into the heart through needle-sized incisions in the chest and heart walls. Using a joystick controller and real-time medical imaging technology, a surgeon could navigate the robotic instrument through the chambers of the heart to the surgical site and deploy an array of tools from its tip to remove blockages, repair faulty valves and close leaks inside the beating heart.
The repair of complex heart defects through open heart surgery has become routine, in great part because of the availability of cardiopulmonary bypass, said del Nido. But we now know that putting patients on bypass carries some risks and can lead to problems, such as neuromotor defects in
|Contact: Mike Seele|