Australian heart surgery breakthrough a boon for COVID-19 patients
Australian experts have found a way to treat highly contagious COVID-19 patients for ailing hearts without moving them out of intensive care.
The world-first study has been fast-tracked for coronavirus patients, but could also be a game-changer for acute heart failure in general.
Experiments in the University of Sydney’s hybrid theatre made use of a 3D ultrasound probe threaded through the blood vessels to the heart.
“From there you can see the heart in intimate proximity,” University of NSW intensive care specialist Konstantin Yastrebov said.
Using the probe, researchers were able to guide the implant of the world’s smallest heart pump, a bridging device that allows the failing heart to recover.
“It can actually pump almost four litres of blood per minute,” Royal Prince Alfred Hospital head of cardiac surgery Professor Paul Bannon said.
There’s no need for x-ray machines, radiation or open surgery, which means highly contagious patients – such as those with COVID-19 – can receive complex treatment at the bedside without leaving intensive care.
A study out of Wuhan found 40 per cent of coronavirus deaths were attributed to heart failure.
The study was performed earlier this year, when the disease first exploded in China.
The project team is now writing a plan for clinical trials.
“The imperative was there to develop it more quickly for COVID, but it will have wider applications post-COVID I’m sure,” Professor Bannon said.