Panama City -- Interventional cardiologists have a new tool that can help them treat patients that otherwise would not have been candidates for open heart surgery: It's a tiny, catheter-based heart pump.
Dr. Samil Patel says "Before this device, patients would be managed medically or they would succumb to the high risk of doing multiple stents.
The tiny Impella maintains a consistent blood flow while surgeons work to open blockages or treat other heart issues.
With this device doctors are able to provide more support, decrease the risk for having a heart attack or a stroke during the procedure -- that will help them recover quickly.
It's called the Impella 2.5 because it's capable of pumping 2.5 liters of blood per minute to support the heart during high risk procedures.
Dr. Amir Haghighat says, "It's minimally invasive, so it's done through holes in the femoral artery which are right at the groin site that are minuscule. There's no cutting of the chest or anything dramatic involved."
It's inserted through the left ventricle of the heart and there's an inlet and outlet area. The inlet is borderized and allows blood to be suctioned through the left ventricle of the heart and goes through the catheter in the outlet area through the ascending aorta.
The world's smallest heart pump is about the size of a number two pencil eraser.
Dr. Haghighat adds "What this device really allows us is to give an extra level of insurance and comfort level as we do these high risk procedures that in case the heart goes into flatline, that the heart is still able to pump out blood and get blood to the vital organs like the brain and the kidneys and the heart arteries, so the patient may not even feel it."
Local doctors performed the first local surgery using the Impella in March 2011. They have two scheduled this week.