PhD student wins grant for device that could make pediatric cardiac surgery safer

PhD student wins grant for device that could make pediatric cardiac surgery safer

Perricor, co-founded by Hopkins mechanical engineering PhD student Justin Oferman, wins Phase II Small Business Innovation Research grant from the National Institutes of Health for peripath, a new device that reduces the need for open cardiac procedures in children. The grant will provide approximately $1.8 million to help with the development of the device so that it can be made commercially available.

PeriPath allows for safer ways to implant cardiac devices in pediatric patients. For adults a. is required pacemakerThe doctor usually makes a small incision in a vein and feeds a wire about 1 millimeter in diameter through it. This wire goes to the heart and can be connected to a pacemaker placed in the chest.

same process cannot be applied For children requiring the same cardiac equipment. A child’s veins are not large enough to fit a wire of the same size, Surgeons need to open the chest through the ribs or between the ribs and place wires on the outside of the heart, which requires open-heart surgery.

in an interview with NewspaperOpfermann discussed how he identified this as a major issue while working at the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation at the Children’s National Hospital.

“When I worked at the hospital, we were looking at pacemaker implants in babies and after talking to several doctors realized that this was a very painful, invasive surgery,” he said.

Opfermann also noted that children who need a pacemaker will likely need multiple surgeries, which creates additional complications.

“Whenever you open the cyst, the patient will recover from the scar tissue that makes the next surgery more difficult,” he said. “Any way we can reduce the number of open surgeries that is beneficial to the patient.”

Over the course of seven years, Opfermann created Peripath with the aim of avoiding these open-heart surgeries and allowing these procedures to be performed with minimally invasive surgery. A minimally invasive surgery requires only small incisions, which minimizes collateral tissue damage, minimizes pain and shortens recovery time. The Peripath will enable children to leave the hospital the day after their procedure, as opposed to spending more than two weeks in intensive care.

The peripath works by allowing doctors access to the heart by going under the rib cage. Instead of requiring cutting through the ribs, as is done in open-heart surgery, only a 1-centimeter incision is required to go under the rib cage and allows surgeons to implant the exact same pacing wires. Is.

Additionally, the design of the device has two crossed channels: one for the camera and the other for the implant tool. This design precisely aligns the implantation tool to the camera’s field of view, so doctors can see where the tools are in relation to the heart, which is another unique feature of this device compared to existing methods.

Opfermann highlighted the importance and necessity of pediatric surgery equipment as most people wrongly believe that miniaturized adult instruments can be used for children. Additionally, there is less financial incentive to manufacture pediatric equipment.

“There aren’t many pediatric surgeries, so unfortunately, companies may be discouraged from developing pediatric specific solutions,” he said.

Opfermann had a long, winding road to eventually build a tool in the area. After originally studying electrical engineering as an undergraduate, he worked at General Electric. However, family situations prompted him to reconsider his career path.

“Early in my career, my mother was admitted to the hospital. When that happened, it prompted me to rethink my career and how my skills could be used in another way,” he said.

This prompted him to go back to school to pursue a Masters in Biomedical Engineering, specifically Bioelectronics. Next, she worked on cardiac equipment at Medtronic and then began her own project at Children’s National Hospital, which led to Peripath.

“Heart procedures, one, are very personal to me. But two, pacemakers are complex electronic systems that connect to the heart, so it naturally suited my interests,” he said.

Opfermann plans to continue working on Peripath while completing a part-time PhD in Axel Krieger’s laboratory in the Laboratory for Computational Sensing and Robotics. With the grant, he could work to gain approval from the Food and Drug Administration to use his device in a clinical trial with human subjects.

He stressed that there are a number of financial constraints to obtaining this approval, such as manufacturing costs and a large series of trials proving its safety and efficacy.

“Finally, after seven years of development, we have the ability to complete human studies and that has really been the ultimate goal,” he said. “After receiving approval from the FDA, the Children’s National Hospital will study five patients. It will be a life-changing moment for those families and those children.”

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