A plastic tube can be used to insert a graft into blood vessels, circumventing the need for bypass surgery
THERE is good news for heart patients
requiring bypass surgery on the aorta,
the main artery which carries oxygenated blood from the heart to the rest of the
body. British researchers have recently
developed a technique that uses plastic
tubes, called catheters, to insert synthetic grafts into the blood vessel, thus eliminating the 'need for a bypass surgery
(New Scientist, Vol 146, No 198 1).
Thousands of people are known to
die each year due to
rupture of aorta, the
body's main artery.
The walls of aorta tend
to become weak with
old age and often tend
to balloon out. When
the diameter of the
balloon reaches a certain critical size -
which is usually about
6 centimetres - the
doctors say that there
is a big risk that it may
burst. These weak
spots, also known as
aneurysms, have to be relieved by a
bypass surgery before they reach the critical size.
Anthony Fox, a vascular surgeon
with the University of Bath's department of surgery now claims to have
developed a prototype which he says will
be ready for tests on people in a few months.
Fox's system is unique because the
polyester graft is reinforced by a 'shape
memory alloy' called
nitinol - a mixture of
nickel and titanium.
When the graft is
placed at the desired
location and the
catheter removed, the
nitinol comes in contact with the blood
helps the graft to
expand its ends
against the wall of the
main artery, thus stationing it at the neck and cuff.
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