Improved Approach to Single-Ventricle Heart Surgery for Infants
Engineers at the University of California, San Diego are proposing a new surgical intervention for children born with a single ventricle in their heart - instead of the usual two. Babies born with a single ventricle are severely deprived of oxygen, which makes their skin turn blue, and requires immediate medical intervention. This new approach could reduce the number of surgeries the patients have to undergo in the first six months of life from two to just one. If successful, it would also create a more stable circuit for blood to flow from the heart to the lungs and the rest of the body within the first days and months of life. Engineers ran computer simulations of the surgery and found it would reduce the workload on the patient's heart by as much as half. It would also increase blood flow to the lungs and increase the amount of oxygen the body receives. The surgery would introduce a radical change in the way infants with a single ventricle are treated. Currently, they undergo three surgeries by age three.