DETROIT — The Detroit Medical Center announced that the hospital group’s Cardiovascular Institute has conducted the nation’s first artery-repair procedure using a new high-tech, catheter-delivered tool designed to pump up to four liters of blood per minute through a patient’s circulatory system.

The new device allows the heart to rest while repairs are made to damaged arteries.

The breakthrough “Impella CP” procedure — the first ever conducted in North America — was used successfully on Tuesday at the DMC’s CVI catheterization lab during a one-hour angioplasty (artery repair) in which the pump worked successfully to maintain blood-flow while doctors inserted stents to repair all three major coronary arteries in a 59-year-old patient.

“For the first time ever in this country, this exciting new device has been used in a procedure aimed at helping a patient with a damaged arterial system to undergo artery repair,” said Dr. Schreiber, who led the DMC team. “What we did was to insert the Impella pump via catheter through a tiny incision in the patient’s femoral artery. Then we moved it into position so that it would pump large quantities of blood for the patient’s heart, in order to facilitate the process. The new device allows us to pump up to four liters a minute of [blood] flow through the patient’s suspended circulation — and that allows the patient to survive while the heart totally stops contracting. The new Impella CP makes a procedure that could be very risky for a patient with a weakened heart much easier to undergo.”

Dr. Schreiber added that previous versions of the heart pump could provide only about 2.5 liters of blood-flow per minute. Increasing the flow to four liters, he said, is a major gain for patients with stressed or weakened circulations systems who require arterial repair.

Dr. Schreiber pointed out that the new procedure is much easier on heart patients, who are spared “chest-cracking surgery” along with the accompanying pain and risk of infection.

The need for surgery is eliminated, in appropriate patients, he said, because the new Impella CP heart pump is delivered by a soft, flexible catheter tube that can be moved throughout the circulatory system without requiring major incisions.

The Impella CP is manufactured by Massachusetts-based Abiomed Inc.

Dr. Schreiber noted that the patient, who had been struggling with angina and numerous arterial blockages, was alert and “feeling comfortable” shortly after the 60-minute procedure on Tuesday afternoon.

“The patient was awake, sedated and extraordinarily comfortable throughout the procedure,” said Dr. Schreiber. “He did not feel any chest pain, and he was quite pleased to see how well the procedure went.”

While explaining that the typical open-heart surgery of the past – which might have been too stressful on the CVI heart patient who was helped yesterday – requires “several months of recuperation,” Tuesday’s angioplasty patient is “now feeling very alert and energetic and is planning to go back to work this Friday morning. After only three days, we expect him to be fully functional. As you might imagine, he and I are very happy about this. And the prognosis for his future improvement and survival is excellent.”

Dr. Schreiber, a nationally recognized medical innovator who pioneered the development of the stent procedure for relieving blocked carotid arteries, said that “this breakthrough will further add to our options and tools for critically ill patients who don’t have the option of undergoing high-risk, open-heart surgery. I think this new step forward makes a very good point about our level of expertise at the CVI, and I believe it helps to explain why more and more people from Michigan, the Midwest and the nation at large are coming to CVI for cardiac care.”

Dr. Schreiber was also quick to credit a key member of the CVI team who helped to conduct the procedure, Dr. Narsingh Gupta.

“Dr. Gupta was one of the original physicians who helped launch the CVI network a few years back, and his skillful assistance during this procedure was absolutely invaluable” Dr. Schreiber said.

For his part, the patient who underwent the breakthrough CVI procedure said he was “amazed and delighted” by how easy the process was — and by the fact that he’s already hard at work on his laptop, even while recovering in a hospital bed.

“I’m feeling incredible this morning!” said Rogelio Landin, who turned 59 on Sunday and is the CEO at Detroit’s Performance Books LLC, an educational publishing company. “For me, the notion that I could be feeling so energetic only 24 hours after a major heart procedure is unfathomable. I haven’t taken myself out for a test-drive yet — but I can tell you that I’m already back at work (on his laptop computer). This is a terrific birthday present for me, and I plan to return to a full, vigorous life. And I feel really invigorated — now that I’ve had all my pipes cleaned out!”

Landin, a frequent civic volunteer in Detroit (and the recently named chairman of Matrix Human Services in the city), capped his remarks during a lively interview on Wednesday with a rousing cheer: “Go, Tigers!” – after noting that the Detroit baseball team is currently tied for the lead in the Central Division of the American League.

Michael Duggan, the CEO at the DMC, said the cardiac breakthrough at CVI was “only the latest example of how the Detroit Medical Center continues to honor a long history of innovation that has helped improve medical practice throughout the U.S. and all around the world. Next year is the 150th anniversary of DMC Harper University Hospital, where yesterday’s first-ever heart procedure was conducted. One of the highlights of that long history took place in July of 1952 – when the first pump-assisted heart surgery took place at Harper. For all of us at the DMC, yesterday’s news about the new heart procedure is a wonderful reminder of our basic mission: to provide the best care for medical patients available in the world today.”

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