Rotary pumps used at New Brunswick Heart Centre
By Dr. Marc
SAINT JOHN, N.B. – The New
Brunswick Heart Centre, part of Horizon Health Network, has a new tool
for saving lives and it fits in the palm of your hand. When a heart is
weak or failing, the top priority for any cardiac team is to keep blood
flowing. The Abiomed Impella Percutaneous Circulatory Assist System uses
leading-edge technology to do just that.
The Impella, recently purchased for the Centre by the Saint John
Regional Hospital Foundation, is helping to save lives. The Impella –
the first system of its kind used in Atlantic Canada – consists of a
tiny rotary pump that is threaded into the heart.
When a person’s heart has failed, the pump drives blood through the body
by sucking blood out of the left ventricle and sending it to the aorta.
The pump can move up to five litres of blood per minute, relieving the
workload on a damaged or weak heart and improving flow throughout the
body until the heart heals or is repaired.
The Impella can be put to use very quickly. Trained staff in a regular
catheter laboratory setting can usually insert the device within 30
minutes. In cases where time is of the essence, this device can be
The Impella has already had a significant impact at the New Brunswick
Heart Centre. Soon after the Impella became available, it was used to
assist one patient during a high risk angioplasty.
The patient, who was in his 60s and suffered from heart failure, kidney
failure, and chronic leukemia, was too sick for cardiac surgery, with a
mortality risk of greater than 30 percent. By using the Impella to
assist the heart, the New Brunswick Heart Centre’s team was able to
complete a successful stent of the main coronary artery. The device was
then removed; the patient returned to the nursing unit for routine care.
Within days, the patient was back at home.
In another case, a patient was dying due to the effects of a heart
attack. In a 12-hour period, the patient needed to be shocked and
resuscitated over 50 times. By using the Impella, the cardiac team
stabilized the patient. The patient was safely transported to Dalhousie
University to undergo heart transplant assessment and has not required
any further shocks or resuscitation.
These two cases are typical of the scenarios when the Impella can be
used. People who are eligible for this procedure are often among the
sickest cardiac patients, including those who would likely die without
this particular form of mechanical support.
While about a quarter of tertiary cardiac centres in Canada use the
device, Horizon Health Network’s New Brunswick Heart Centre is the first
in Atlantic Canada to offer this kind of minimally invasive circulatory
assistance technology. The Heart Centre expects that up to five or 10
patients per year may require this type of advanced support – patients
who previously would have had few other options.
For its part, Horizon Health Network is the largest health authority in
Atlantic Canada and one of the largest in Canada. One of New Brunswick’s
largest employers, Horizon has 14,000 staff and 1,000 physicians. Its
over 100 facilities serve New Brunswick, northern Nova Scotia and Prince
Horizon Health Network has provincial responsibility for some tertiary
healthcare services and a number of unique provincial programs. The New
Brunswick Heart Centre, located in the historic harbour city of Saint
John, is one of these.
Horizon is also home to the Dalhousie Medicine New Brunswick distributed
medical education program, based in Saint John, and delivered in
locations throughout Horizon’s region.
Dr. Marc Pelletier is the Clinical Department Head, Cardiac Surgery,
New Brunswick Heart Centre, Horizon Health Network.
Posted October 21, 2010