Heart Implant Can Grow With the Body

By: | October 25th, 2017

Growing heart implant

Image courtesy Randal McKenzie

Millions of people live with medical devices implanted in their bodies. These surgical implants are extremely effective in most cases, but the inability of fixed size implants to accommodate the growth of the body remains a challenge. Children have to undergo numerous operations to periodically replace their lifesaving implants so they will be in sync with their natural growth.

But now, a team of researchers from Boston Children’s Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital has developed a growth-accommodating heart implant that grows as the child grows. This implant is used in a cardiac surgical procedure, called valve annuloplasty, to repair a defective heart valve.

This unique growth-accommodating implant is made up of two components: a biopolymer core that degrades gradually and a braided tubular sleeve that elongates over time in response to the growing tissues that surround it.

Pedro del Nido, chief of cardiac surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital, said, “Medical implants and devices are rarely designed with children in mind, and as a result, they almost never accommodate growth. So, we have created an environment here where individuals with expertise and interest in medical devices can come together and collaborate towards developing materials for pediatric surgery.”

Biomedical device company CryoLife Inc. has already started developing this technology to bring it to market.

Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

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