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Fewer Infections With New Heart Implant

Thu, 05/27/2010 - 11:37am

A state-of-the-art heart pump recently approved for use in end-stage cardiac patients has a significantly lower risk for infection than an earlier model of the device, according to researchers at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.

Known as a left ventricular assist device, the newest version of the HeartMate is much smaller than the first and uses a tiny turbine with synthetic ruby bearings, lubricated by the blood itself, to continually push blood through the body. Its predecessor is larger, heavier, has more moving parts, and is designed to mimic the pulsing of blood through a healthy heart.

Implanting the latest version of the pump is also less invasive, so researchers sought to find whether it offered less risk of infection. “Left ventricular assist devices have become the standard of care for patients with end-stage heart failure,” says lead author Jeffrey A. Morgan, M.D. Associate Director of Circulatory Assist Device Program and Cardiac Transplantation.

“The HeartMate II was designed to address specific limitations of the HM I, including minimizing the invasiveness of LVAD implantation. The focus of this study was to ascertain whether the HeartMate II was associated with a decreased incidence of device-related infections.”

The study will be presented at the American Society for Artificial Internal Organs in Baltimore.

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