Innovation

Mending a hole in the heart


pfo
By Shanley Pierce | February 5, 2019

Before birth, babies rely on their mothers for oxygen. A mother’s oxygen-rich blood travels from the right atrium to the left atrium of a baby’s developing heart through a small, open flap called the foramen ovale.

All babies are born with this tiny hole in their hearts, but in most cases the hole closes within six months. For a quarter of the population, though, the hole never closes, a condition known as patent foramen ovale (PFO). This opens the door for recurring strokes.

Enter Richard Smalling, M.D., Ph.D., director of interventional cardiology with McGovern Medical School at UTHealth and the Memorial Hermann Heart & Vascular Institute-Texas Medical Center. Smalling led an eight-year nationwide clinical trial to study the safety and efficacy of the Amplatzer PFO Occluder, a device that can patch up this congenital heart defect in less than an hour. The trial ended in late 2011 and follow-up data from nearly six years later shows the device reduces the risk of recurrent stroke by 45 to 62 percent.

“The beauty of it is: It’s delivered via a catheter that we insert through a vein in the leg,” Smalling explained.

The PFO Occluder is outfitted with two discs made of woven nickel titanium mesh, one the size of a nickel and the other the size of a quarter.

Before the device is inserted in the catheter, it is stretched to assume the shape of the tube. Once the catheter enters the left atrium through the hole in the heart, the smaller mesh disc expands and tugs against the wall between the heart’s two upper chambers to collapse the flap. The second, larger disc springs open as the catheter is retracted in the right atrium. With the flap securely sandwiched between both discs, heart tissue heals over the device within six months, creating a new wall between the two upper chambers of the heart.

According to Smalling, the device, which has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, provides a simple, yet elegant, solution for many patients. “With the device, we can at least eliminate one cause of recurrent stroke,” he said.




Social Posts

profile_image

MD Anderson Cancer Center

@MDAndersonNews

How our Moon Shots Program is changing the way we detect and treat #cancer: https://t.co/10KSeMrBlf #CancerMoonshot #endcancer

49 mins ago
profile_image

Rice University

@RiceUniversity

RT @RiceBaseball: A series win looks even better through the 📸 #GoOwls👐 x #NewEraSameStandard https://t.co/dPDNQvPxf3

1 hour ago
profile_image

Veterans Affairs

@DeptVetAffairs

GONZALEZ, Texas: Important Veterans fair scheduled for March 16 https://t.co/dQk55UwBF3 via @GonzInquirer

2 hours ago
profile_image

Veterans Affairs

@DeptVetAffairs

Las Cruces Veteran building race cart to raise awareness about Veterans' issues https://t.co/jAQXxf0rKv via @CrucesSunNews

3 hours ago
profile_image

MD Anderson Cancer Center

@MDAndersonNews

@CourtWilkinson6 @ABREG_1 Let us know if you need anything while you’re here, Courtney. We’re sending good vibes your way.

4 hours ago
profile_image

Veterans Affairs

@DeptVetAffairs

Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Women’s Army Corps Veteran Martha Settle Putney. Martha served during World War II. https://t.co/9RaNBEC8Ef

4 hours ago
profile_image

MD Anderson Cancer Center

@MDAndersonNews

Dr. Greg Lizee on novel treatment vaccine: “We’re pioneering the #colorectalcancer field, but this therapy could potentially be used to treat any type of cancer.” #endcancer https://t.co/dV67DvDBG5

5 hours ago
profile_image

University of Houston

@UHouston

RT @UHCougarMBK: No 9/9 COOGS WIN!!! Final score presented by @thejointchiro UH moves to 2️⃣5️⃣-1️⃣ overall 1️⃣2️⃣-1️⃣ in #AmericanHoops…

6 hours ago
profile_image

BCMHouston

@bcmhouston

Can't fall asleep? Can't stop hitting the snooze on your alarm in the morning? Light may be to blame. https://t.co/KITEIEWypI #sleep #sleepmedicine

6 hours ago
profile_image

Rice University

@RiceUniversity

RT @RiceBaseball: Rice Wins! Rice Wins! 🦉👐 https://t.co/SdprR4IGG8

7 hours ago
profile_image

BCMHouston

@bcmhouston

RT @ashleyhmullen: Our OP students did a wonderful job teaching girls about a career in orthotics and prosthetics at the @hmns GEMS event!…

8 hours ago
profile_image

BCMHouston

@bcmhouston

RT @HOUmanitarian: Million Dollar Baby: An upcoming conversation hosted by @bcmhouston examines how IVF and other reproductive technologies…

8 hours ago
profile_image

University of Houston

@UHouston

Big issues. Bold ideas. UH-mazing support. https://t.co/Bmcxjtzpiq

10 hours ago
profile_image

University of Houston

@UHouston

RT @UHCougarMBK: IT'S 🏀 GAME DAY in NEW ORLEANS! 🐾 🏀 at Tulane 🕗 1 pm 📍 Fogelman Arena in Devlin Fieldhouse 💻 @CBSSportsNet | https://t.…

11 hours ago
profile_image

Houston Methodist

@MethodistHosp

@SamRRazaMD @DrMarthaGulati @NadeenFaza @WilliamZoghbi @rooshaparikh @AChoiHeart @HeartOTXHeartMD @purviparwani @ErinMichos @mmamas1973 @iamritu @VietHeartPA @ash71us @mswami001 @onco_cardiology @majazayeri Glad you liked it. Thanks for the shout-out

13 hours ago