Miniature heart pump packs a punch

Beebe first downstate hospital to offer device
July 5, 2017

The Impella mobile learning lab rolled into Beebe Healthcare's parking lot June 28 carrying a tiny device with a life-saving punch. “We're trying to give anyone who is interested in the device a chance to learn about it,” said Tony Antonaccio, spokesman for Abiomed, the company that makes the Impella heart pump.

Doctors and nurses flowed in and out of the learning lab stopping at several stations inside that described the pump and how it works. “People can come in and interact with the touch screens,” said Ryan Willis, an Abiomed technician.

Dr. Mouhanad Freih, a cardiologist with Beebe Healthcare, has firsthand experience with the device. “This will help save lives, help the heart recover,” he said.

Using a life-sized dummy, he showed how the pump device is threaded through a small incision in the abdomen where it winds through the femoral artery and into the aorta – the body's largest artery. From the aorta the device is placed into the heart's left ventricle.

Freih shared a story of a recent patient whose heart was weak and could not pump blood to his vital organs such as the brain and kidneys. “Without this, the patient would not have survived,” he said.

The pump is tiny – about an inch long – and is part of a device that measures about 5 inches long. Despite its small size, the device can pump 2.5 liters of blood per minute through the heart. “It is one of the smallest devices available. There's no other catheter that does the same thing,” Freih said.

To date, Freih said, the device has been used on four Beebe patients. He said his patient is recovering beautifully thanks to the Impella device. “This is adding to the team we have,” he said. “We're very pleased to have this here.” 

Beebe Healthcare is the second hospital in Delaware to offer the Impella pump. Christiana Care also provides the device. Beebe officials would not say how much the pump costs because it is based on many variables.


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