[Image Source: Harpoon Medical]
Open heart surgery is one of the riskiest and most invasive medical procedures that anyone can undergo. It is often deemed necessary by a blockage in the heart or issues with heart valves. While anything to do with operating on the heart is inherently risky, one company has devised a device that can eliminate the need for surgery in thousands of patients. Called the Harpoon TSD-5, the device is seeing wild success in clinical trials in the repair of malfunctioning heart valves. To see exactly what the device does, take a look at the animation below detailing the entire procedure.
11 patients in Poland have successfully undergone the harpoon procedure, according to Gizmodo, all with a 100 percent success. This level of success is getting doctors excited about the potential of this device in eliminating the complications and recovery time typically seen with open heart surgery.
"The TSD-5 anchors artificial cords on the flaps to take the place of the natural cords. The artificial cords are made of expanded polytetrafluoroethylene (ePTFE), a polymer commonly used as sutures in cardiac surgery" ~ University of Maryland
The device was developed by Harpoon Medical at the University of Maryland Medical Center. Even though clinical trials have been very successful, it will still take some time for the harpoon to make its way through the necessary approval process. Degenerative mitral regurgitation (MR) is the most common type of heart valve disorder, which is exactly what this device aims at fixing. This degenerative disorder results in blood flowing the wrong direction which can cause irregular heartbeats. Around 2% of the world's population will encounter this issue at some point in their life.
[Image Source: AMERRA Medical]
The procedure is rather simple as compared to invasive open heart surgery. The harpoon is inserted through a small incision in the heart where it then attaches a tether to the broken valve. While this device is groundbreaking, not everyone with the disorder will be a perfect fit for its use. Only about 75% of patients with this problem will qualify for surgical use of the harpoon. Even still, any number of open heart surgeries that can be avoided is a glaring success in biomedical technologies.
Written by Trevor English