Pumping out new heart technology

In a groundbreaking, world-first preclinical trial, Australian scientists have found it could be possible to implant a lifesaving pump into the hearts of patients with heart failure without leaving the intensive care unit (ICU).

It may make a big difference to patients in ICUs suffering from COVID-19.

About 40 per cent of COVID-19 deaths are attributed to heart failure.

Researchers at The University of Sydney used a new three-dimensional intracardiac ultrasound device to guide an assistive pump into the main heart chamber of a sheep.

The type of pump is already being used in Australia, but working out how one could be inserted with minimal physical intervention could mean higher survival rates for patients restricted to intensive care.

The trial’s lead author, Professor Paul Bannon, who is Professor and Chair of Cardiothoracic Surgery in the Faculty of Medicine and Health, said the successful sheep experiment should now lead to human trials.

“This study provides a strong basis for researchers to progress to human studies implanting the mechanical pump inside the left ventricle of the heart using three-dimensional intracardiac ultrasonography as a guide, and without ever having to transport the patient,” Professor Bannon said.

“As well as all critically ill and unstable patients, this has potential to benefit the sickest COVID-19 patients who may not be able to be moved to the catheterisation laboratory or operating theatre for the traditional procedure due to isolation requirements.”

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