World’s Smallest Heart Pump

February 5th, 2013

The old cliché says that good things come in small packages. For patients undergoing cardiac procedures at Prairie Heart Institute at Memorial Hospital of Carbondale, the adage is especially true.

Memorial is the only Illinois health care facility south of Interstate 64 using the Impella 2.5 cardiac assist device, informally known as the world’s smallest heart pump. Despite its tiny size, the pump is making a big difference in heart procedures for the area’s heart patients.

“In medical language we call it a hemodynamic support device,” explains Interventional Cardiologist Raed Al-Dallow of Prairie Cardiovascular Consultants in Carbondale. “What it is a small pump that helps the heart during the short periods of time where we need to support the patient’s heart’s ability to function.”

What makes this particular device different is its size—about as big as the little ball in a ball point pen—and the variety of procedures in which it can be used.

Using the Impella Heart Pump

More about Raed Al-Dallow, M.D.

“It can be a bridge to recovery, a bridge to a surgical procedure or a supportive device during a complex procedure,” Al-Dallow says.

For example, he says most often the pump is used when cardiologists are placing a cardiac stent. In these cases, the pump, encased in a long catheter, is temporarily inserted through an artery in the patient’s groin and guided to the aortic valve, where the pump temporarily takes over the heart’s job.

“While you place stents there are a few seconds where you stop the blood flow in the coronary arteries and if you don’t have this pump, then during that time the heart could be in trouble, but with it, we can perform the procedure safely.”

Saving Lives & Avoiding Open Heart Surgery

The doctor says the pump also can be a life-saver following major heart problems. He says the pump can be quickly placed in a patient’s heart in as little as five minutes and will efficiently pump while preparations for cardiac surgery take place.

Al-Dallow says the use of the world’s smallest heart pump has been a great addition to cardiac care at SIH. “Our ability to safely do complex treatments and potentially avoid open heart surgery is greater now,” he says. “This device has added another degree of success to our heart program.”

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