FloWatch : Life-saving Device for Infants with Congenital Heart Disease

An easily implanted, remote-assisted contrivance comprising of a rubber band affixed to a small motor is a revolutionary advancement for treating babies having congenital heart disease.

Device known as FloWatch is implanted in the region around the major pulmonary artery inside the heart for facilitating it in narrowing down.

Adjustment of the rubber band’s thickness could be done employing a remote control, translating to the fact that the implant could effectually continue growing with the infant.

In the United Kingdom, one among every one thousand infants has a congenital heart disease condition.

Congenital heart disease is of varying kinds, namely:

  • Congenital heart diseaseHoles in-between cardiac compartments.
  • Cardiac valve or vessel might not have adequately developed.
  • Single or more blockages in the paths arising from the heart to lungs, other parts of the body.

A number of patients having these anomalies would need surgical intervention; however it holds greater risks as they are quite infantile. Hence, as a provisional measure, a method known as PAB or pulmonary artery banding could be employed for reducing blood surge and elevated pressure in the lungs.

Till present, this anomaly could be amended solely with further surgery. However, brainchild of this pioneering, adaptable contrivance, Dr. Antonio Corno from Alder Hey Hospital, Liverpool states that the issue with conventionally employed PAB is the requirement for additional invasive surgical procedure.

Dr. Corno explicates that the two ventricles present in the heart – one does the task of pumping blood inside the pulmonary artery that conveys blood to the lungs for getting oxygen; whereas as the other ventricle does the pumping of oxygen-inundated blood all through the body. He added that due to presence of some flaws, this could lead to undue amounts of blood travelling to the lungs, with elevated pressure (pulmonary hypertension) that could lead to signs like feeling breathless.

Due to growth, the once operated child would have arterial growth too, that would necessitate further surgery for loosening the band that could hold main complications like blood loss, breathing shortage, infection and cardiac failure.

The gadget is a plastic, an inch in length, wire and battery free device which could be amended using a remote control. It is affixed to a small motor affixed to a piston which could help in tightening or loosening the band. The surgery conducted under general anaesthesia involves opening the chest, clipping the device around the major pulmonary artery for creating a constriction in-between lungs and heart for decreasing pressure in the direction of lungs and blood surge.

Employing the remote control, the device could be adjusted in accordance to requirement thus vastly simplifying treatment due to briefer surgery time and hence recuperation period.

This is the foremost point in time wherein an implantable contrivance in an organ could then be amended from outside the body with no requirement of invasive surgical procedure.

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