U of M Masonic Children's Hospital uses new, non-invasive method to help premature babies with heart defects

June 18, 2019 09:53 AM

Doctors at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital are the first in the state to use a new device to repair heart defects in babies born prematurely.

Those patients include little Christina Hohensee, who at six weeks old weighs just over 2 pounds.


"She is our miracle baby," her dad, Nate Hohensee, said. "She was due Aug. 10, but we had her May 1."

Christina was born with a heart condition known as Patent Ductus Arteriosus, or PDA, meaning one of the vessels connected to her heart didn't close properly.  It's a condition that's traditionally corrected with surgery.  However, surgery on such small, fragile patients comes with potential complications.

"There is pain, there is a big incision," Dr. Gurumurthy Hiremath said. "But now we have an option to treat these babies without surgery."

A tiny device, which is no bigger than a pea, is making for a quicker and safer fix.  It's called the Amplatzer Piccolo Occluder.  It features a coil which acts as a plug inside the open vessel. It is designed to fit babies weighing as little as two pounds.

Christina is the third patient to recieve the implant.

"We go in through the groin and thread a tiny catheter through the heart.  We do the entire procedure non-invasively,"  Hiremath said.

"Less than an hour later, she didn't even need a bandaid," Hohensee said.

The Piccolo device is made by Minnesota-based Abbott Laboratories.


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Ellen Galles

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