New Robot Can Fix a Broken Heart

A new device cradles the heart and uses a probe to precisely manipulate a particular heart chamber to function properly.

Heart Device / Image: Payne
Heart Device / Image: Payne

A recent WIRED article noted a new robotic development that could ease pressure on the heart transplant list. The device cradles the heart and anchors to the wall separating the lower chambers to assist in pumping. Earlier in the year, we reported on a sleeve that fits around the heart, but this device is capable of precisely manipulating a single diseased chamber.

Currently, doctors use ventricular assist devices, which are external pumps that help carry blood throughout the body. Because the blood flows through the machinery, patients need to take blood thinners to prevent the device from gumming up.

This new robot is made of soft polymers that conform to the organ and encourages the heart’s normal function from within the body. It also includes a septum and rod contraption that helps the heart pump blood better than other devices. It detects electrical signals from the heart or pressure changes within the ventricle to sync movements up with the normal operation of the heart. It has already proven to work in a live pig; the next step is to implant it and see how it works over an extended period of a few months.