Doctors and engineers in the US have developed a pioneering surgical implant that grows bigger in size as a child grows up. The implant can revolutionize cardiac surgery in children.
Medical implants can save lives by repairing defects in the heart and other organs. However, today, their use in children is made difficult by the fact that fixed size implants can not be extended as a child develops over time.
This results in a child who makes a life-saving cardiac surgery, e.g. to restore the function of a valve, other interventions may be needed in the future. Researchers at Harvard University Medical School and Children’s Hospital and Brigham & Women’s Boston, headed by cardiac surgeon and pediatric surgeon Pedro del Nido, and associate professor of biomechanics Jeff Karp, who published the relevant publication in the Biomedical Engineering “Nature” Biomedical Engineering, “created an implant that does not have a fixed size over time, but grows along with the child’s body and organs.
“Medical implants and implantable devices are seldom designed to take children into consideration, leading to almost never being able to respond to the child’s natural development,” said Nido.
The new implant, intended for heart valve repair procedures, consists of a biodegradable core of biopolymer material and a spherical envelope elongated over time, responding to the pressures exerted by the growing surrounding tissue. Already, the CryoLife Biomedical Appliance Company, in collaboration with researchers, is developing a relevant valve ring for children.