Orange : Heart-Lung Machine Used Successfully

Doctors at UCI Medical Center have successfully performed high-risk surgical procedures on three patients with the aid of a portable heart-lung machine, medical center officials said this week.

Using the machine provides an alternative to "bypass surgery or not doing anything at all" for high-risk cardiac patients, said Dr. Jonathan Tobis, an associate professor of cardiology who performed the procedures. All three patients have survived their surgeries well, Tobis said.

Two of the three patients had clogged arteries and had them cleared by a procedure called angioplasty, Tobis said.

Normally in an angioplasty, a cardiologist inserts a balloon catheter to open clogged blood vessels. But in these cases, Tobis said, that procedure was not expected to work because blood flow would be interrupted and the heart would stop in a matter of seconds, Tobis said. Under those circumstances, most doctors would have had to declare such patients inoperable, Tobis said.

Instead, UCI doctors put the three patients on a small portable heart-lung machine called a Percutaneous Cardiopulmonary Support, which has been in use there since March. The unit took over the work of the heart and lungs, giving the cardiologist time to insert a balloon catheter to open clogged vessels.

The third case involved a 46-year-old woman who had gone into cardiac arrest after bypass surgery. She was placed on the portable machine and was stabilized until surgeons could put in a new bypass graft.

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