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posted by janrinok on Monday March 03 2014, @05:30PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the who-wants-to-live-forever? dept.

AnonTechie writes:

"Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Washington University in St. Louis have developed a new device that may one day help prevent heart attacks. Unlike existing pacemakers and implantable defibrillators that are one-size-fits-all, the new device is a thin, elastic membrane designed to stretch over the heart like a custom-made glove and may arrive to human hearts in 10 to 15 years.

They custom made it to precisely fit the shape of the rabbit's heart: First, while the rabbit was still alive, they scanned it and created a 3D model using computer aided tomography. They manufactured the model in a 3D printer, which they used as a mold to create the membrane. After that they took the heart out, applied the membrane, and kept it beating at a perfect pace.

The full article can be found here"

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  • (Score: 5, Funny) by CoolHand on Monday March 03 2014, @05:43PM

    by CoolHand (438) on Monday March 03 2014, @05:43PM (#10132) Journal
    I'm no medical doctor, but it seems to this good ole boy that they might want to investigate getting this "glove" put on the heart and keeping it beating while it's still INSIDE the body...
    --
    Anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job-Douglas Adams
    • (Score: 1) by Dachannien on Monday March 03 2014, @06:43PM

      by Dachannien (2494) on Monday March 03 2014, @06:43PM (#10153)

      Nah, just chuck it back in there. It'll work fine!

    • (Score: 2) by davester666 on Monday March 03 2014, @06:53PM

      by davester666 (155) on Monday March 03 2014, @06:53PM (#10157)

      Details shmetails.

      Who doesn't want an elastic band around their heart?

    • (Score: 1) by efitton on Monday March 03 2014, @11:55PM

      by efitton (1077) on Monday March 03 2014, @11:55PM (#10351) Homepage

      My father had a triple bypass this last December. The take out the heart. Obviously they keep it all hooked up, etc. but the actual heart is taken out of the chest. End of the procedure they wash out the body cavity and put it back in. I imagine that this type of procedure would be similar in terms of lower the body temp, crack open the chest, etc.

      Anyhow, pretty amazing.

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Dunbal on Monday March 03 2014, @06:15PM

    by Dunbal (3515) on Monday March 03 2014, @06:15PM (#10144)

    While as a concept it may be wonderful, installing a pacemaker is a minor surgical procedure that requires a small incision under the pectoral muscle, and the leads are places through endo-vascular techniques (through the blood vessels to the heart guided by x-ray fluoroscopy). It's not necessary to open the chest cavity.

    Anything that requires a sternotomy (cracking open the rib cage at the sternum) is major surgery indeed. Considering the fact that your patient probably is not the best surgical candidate in the first place (because he has heart trouble requiring the device), this would all but rule out the possibility of fitting it to those who would most benefit from it. Of course it could always be implanted after other routine heart surgeries as standard procedure as a back up for the post operative period. Or endoscopic techniques could be developed in the future. But right now, as it is, I think it is of limited usefulness. Wired devices are less invasive and less risky.

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Rivenaleem on Monday March 03 2014, @06:34PM

      by Rivenaleem (3400) on Monday March 03 2014, @06:34PM (#10148)

      One would also wonder at the timescale. With the pace that stem cell and organ cloning is progressing, will replacement hearts be available before this thing is (10 to 15 years)

      • (Score: 2, Interesting) by The Grim Reefer on Monday March 03 2014, @07:40PM

        by The Grim Reefer (1451) on Monday March 03 2014, @07:40PM (#10178)

        Possibly. But this may be a good stop gap measure for when you go into the emergency room. Presumably a new heart would need to be grown from your own cells to reduce complications with rejection. That will take some time.

        • (Score: 1) by Rivenaleem on Tuesday March 04 2014, @10:24PM

          by Rivenaleem (3400) on Tuesday March 04 2014, @10:24PM (#11020)

          Okay, add 3D printing to my list above. Have they not already started 3D printing organs?

    • (Score: 3, Informative) by mmcmonster on Monday March 03 2014, @07:48PM

      by mmcmonster (401) on Monday March 03 2014, @07:48PM (#10185)

      Agree. This has extremely limited usefullness.

      There's also issues with the terminology used in the summary. This WILL NOT PREVENT A HEART ATTACK. A heart attack is when a segment of the heart muscle dies, typically due to insufficient blood due to an acutely occluded coronary artery (the arteries that supply the heart muscle itself with blood).

      This seems to be a type of pacemaker. Pacemakers are used when the heart rate is too low. As the parent post said, we have much simpler ways to put a pacemaker than this.

      As a cardiologist, I see extremely limited use for a device like this.

  • (Score: 1, Funny) by timbim on Monday March 03 2014, @06:29PM

    by timbim (907) on Monday March 03 2014, @06:29PM (#10146)

    Is there anything they can't do?

    • (Score: 4, Funny) by The Grim Reefer on Monday March 03 2014, @07:37PM

      by The Grim Reefer (1451) on Monday March 03 2014, @07:37PM (#10175)

      Divide by 0?

    • (Score: 2, Funny) by bob_super on Monday March 03 2014, @08:25PM

      by bob_super (1357) on Monday March 03 2014, @08:25PM (#10211)

      Print legal tender.

      With technological progress, they'll do soon, but then we'll all change our currency to the leaf.

      • (Score: 1) by efitton on Monday March 03 2014, @11:58PM

        by efitton (1077) on Monday March 03 2014, @11:58PM (#10355) Homepage

        The devaluation of the leaf will mean that we will have to burn some forest down.

  • (Score: 2, Interesting) by chewbacon on Tuesday March 04 2014, @02:27AM

    by chewbacon (1032) on Tuesday March 04 2014, @02:27AM (#10398)

    This is a multi-site pacemaker on the epicardium. The "membrane" merely holds it together. I think St. Jude is coming out with something similar via the endocardial route (endovascular route), which has its own challenges this would get around. However unless they perfected a sort of laparoscopic technique for this, the endovascular route is far less invasive compared to cracking open the chest for this. I would think candidacy for this and benefits outweighing risks for this therapy would be rare.

    As far as ICDs go, the latest and greatest electrophysiologists are crazy about is the subcutaneous defibrillator. The device goes under the arm and a lead is tunneled under the skin and runs next to the sternum. It's a great option for relatively young patients so you don't have to do a lead (wire) replacement 20-25 years later. Uses more joules than the endovascular lead ICD, but patient's really can't tell the difference.