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Study: Heart pump with behind-the-ear power connector
Date:8/7/2013

Baltimore, MD August 7, 2013 Cardiac surgeons and cardiologists at the University of Maryland Heart Center are part of a multi-center clinical trial evaluating the efficacy of powering heart pumps through a skull-based connector behind the ear. Typically, these devices for patients with severe heart failure are energized through an electrical cord connected at an abdominal site, where potentially deadly infections can develop.

"Over time, nearly one-third of our patients surviving with the assistance of an implanted blood pump develop an infection at the site where the power cord exits the skin. This complication may be lethal but, if not, it is always a difficult problem," says the University of Maryland's principal investigator, Bartley P. Griffith, M.D., the Thomas E. and Alice Marie Hales Distinguished Professor of Surgery at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, and a senior cardiac surgeon at the University of Maryland Medical Center.

The infection-prone abdominal connection also limits some activities such as swimming and bathing, since water may also contribute to infection.

The pumps, called left ventricular assist devices (LVADs), support the heart's main pumping chamber, the left ventricle. LVADs are implanted in the chest and powered with external batteries.

The study, named RELIVE (Randomized Evaluation of Long-term Intraventricular VAD Effectiveness), compares two similar continuous flow heart pumps designed for "destination therapy." The devices provide long-term support to patients with end-stage heart failure who, for a variety of reasons at the time of implant, are ineligible for a heart transplant. The major difference is in the way electrical power from the battery pack gets to each pump implanted in the chest. In one case, the internal power cord is routed through a traditional opening, or pump pocket, in the abdominal wall. In the other, the internal power cable is tunneled through the neck
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Contact: Bill Seiler
bseiler@umm.edu
410-328-8919
University of Maryland Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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