By NICK GOSNELL
HUTCHINSON, Kan. — Dr. Robert Fleming, cardiothoracic surgeon with Hutchinson Regional Healthcare System, went into further detail Thursday on which patients would benefit from the new Impella 5.5 heart pump being used at Hutchinson Regional.
"If their heart's ability to pump blood is roughly 20% of normal, you might consider putting this on," Fleming said. "Also, a group of patients, you can look at this as either a bridge to recovery of the heart or a bridge to transplantation."
This new pump can do as much blood as a body has.
"The last patient we did, she came to us with such a poorly functioning heart that I placed the device in preparation for doing bypass surgery," Fleming said. "Without some support, we might not get her out of the operating room alive. The other scenario would be a case in the operating room that you don't expect to have trouble with, but you do."
In that case, the pump would be placed to allow the heart to heal, with the intent of removal in days or weeks as the patient's condition improves.
"It's people who have had a massive heart attack or have cardiomyopathy, where their heart muscle simply is weakened by a virus, or something else," Fleming said.
The pump is so small that they can put it in through an artery in such a way that they don't have to crack the chest open to put it in. The first procedure in Hutchinson was performed October 1.