Heart umbrellas with a big impact

“After the procedure, Jonah was a different child, the improvement was immediate. He turned 180 degrees in the right direction,” says his mother Ania. On June 22 of this year, the boy underwent an effective procedure in the cardiac catheterization laboratory at the Heart and Diabetes Center NRW (HDZ NRW) in Bad Oeynhausen when he was just six months old.
Prof. Stephan Schubert, Director of Pediatric Cardiology there, closed Jonah’s open ductus arteriosus with a small nitinol umbrella, a “piccolo” umbrella.

The ductus arteriosus is a small vessel that connects the aorta with the pulmonary artery in the unborn baby. In the womb, blood is pumped from the right ventricle into the aorta via the ductus, bypassing the lungs. After birth, when the lungs develop and the newborn begins to breathe, the duct closes spontaneously within hours to days after birth. If it fails to do so, it is referred to as a persistent ductus arteriosus botalli (PDA).

Jonah and his twin brother were also affected by an open ductus when they were born prematurely in December 2022. The patent ductus is one of the most common congenital heart defects in premature babies and accounts for between five and nine percent of all congenital heart defects.

Using a minimally invasive approach and mainly under ultrasound and minimal X-ray control, Prof. Schubert guided the narrow catheter through a groin vein to the small children’s heart, where the nitinol sheath unfolds in the ductus and closes the open connection.

This cardiac catheterization procedure, which is less invasive than major heart surgery, has only been possible for children weighing 700 grams or more since 2019. It saves young patients from having to open their chest and, according to Prof. Schubert’s estimates, is performed by eight to ten heart centers in Germany.

“The plug heals, the symptoms disappear. If the child was very stressed by the duct, like Jonah, you can see the improvement very quickly. A switch flips immediately,” explains Schubert.

Jonah’s mother happily confirms this: “Before the operation, Jonah was just a sick child who looked miserable and breathed badly. He made his first attempts to swallow after the operation, although the doctors had previously told us that he would never be able to swallow. The operation is the best thing that could have happened to us. What this clinic has achieved…”

Jonah had spent half his life in the hospital up until then. “But now we’ve arrived home reasonably well. Everyday life remains a challenge due to Jonah’s underlying illness, simply because of the intensive medical care required. But we’ve become braver, we dare to go out with Jonah and accept invitations again,” says his mother.

Author(s) Source
Meny S (interviewer) Medica tradefair portal, 19.12.2023
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