Three patients in United States have become the first to be implanted with a next-generation artificial heart pump called the DuraHeart Left-Ventricular Assist System.
NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center is one of only three centers in the U.S. currently enrolling patients in a clinical trial studying the device.
The DuraHeart is designed to sustain patients with severe left-ventricular heart failure while they wait for a heart transplant and face the risk of death without any intervention.
Dr. Yoshifumi Naka, director of cardiac transplantation, led the surgeries that took place earlier this year.
Naka chose to implant the device without stopping the heart and putting the patient on a heart-lung machine, an "off pump" approach, which reduces risk for bleeding and stroke associated with putting a patient on bypass.
"In this clinical trial, we hope to show that this device can help patients retain a healthy and meaningful quality of life while awaiting a heart transplant. Eventually, the DuraHeart may also prove to be a long-term solution, even for those ineligible for transplantation," said Naka.
The average wait for a transplant is nine months due to a shortage of donor organs.
In patients with advanced heart failure, the heart isn't strong enough to pump sufficient blood for normal activities, leaving them greatly fatigued and frequently bedridden with difficulty breathing.
Heart failure is the number one reason for hospitalization.
Mechanical heart pumps like the DuraHeart are designed to help the heart pump blood from the left ventricle to the aorta, increasing flow throughout the body.
In earlier research, it was shown that the approach could help alleviate symptoms and improve survival.
The DuraHeart is considered a third-generation device with unique features, including a paddlewheel-like component called an impeller that is suspended by an electromagnet.
Thus, any bearings or contact points are eliminated, hence allowing the device to work at slower speeds, potentially reducing device wear and risk for blood cell breakage.