Researchers have designed a specialized catheter for fixing holes in the heart using a biodegradable adhesive and patch. As the team reports in Science Translational Medicine, the catheter has been used successfully in animal studies to facilitate hole closure without the need for open heart surgery. The device represents a radical change in the way these kinds of cardiac defects are repaired.
Catheterizations are preferable to open heart surgery because they don't require stopping the heart, putting the patient on bypass, and cutting into the heart. Last winter, the unique adhesive patch was published in Science Translational Medicine. This represented a large step forward in the quest to reduce complications associated with heart defect repair. While medical devices that remain in the body may be jostled out of place or fail to cover the hole as the body grows, the patch allows for heart tissue to create its own closure and then dissolves.
To truly realize the patch's potential, however, the researchers sought a way to deliver the patch without open heart surgery. Their newly designed catheter device utilizes UV light technology and can be used to place the patch in a beating heart.
The catheter is inserted through a vein in the neck or groin and directed to the defect within the heart. Once the catheter is in place, the clinician opens two positioning balloons: one around the front end of the catheter, passing through the hole, and one on the other side of the heart wall.
The clinician then deploys the patch and turns on the catheter's UV light. The light reflects off of the balloon's shiny interior and activates the patch's adhesive coating. As the glue cures, pressure from the positioning balloons on either side of the patch help secure it in place.
Finally, both balloons are deflated and the catheter is withdrawn. Over time, normal tissue growth resumes and heart tissue grows over the patch. The patch itself dissolves when it is no longer needed.
The researchers add that the device is designed to be customizable. For instance, the rate at which the patch biodegrades can be slowed or accelerated depending on how quickly the surrounding tissue grows over it. Further studies will reveal the appropriate lengths of time for different circumstances.
Based on material originally posted by Boston Children's Hospital.