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New mechanical heart implanted at the MUHC


Surgeons at the MUHC have successfully implanted a new kind of mechanical heart in two patients, the first time this new technology has been used in Canada. This new mechanical heart will allow some patients’ damaged hearts to recover their normal function, and will reduce the need for heart transplants. This "bridge-to-recovery" technology promises to revolutionize the management of heart failure. The MUHC is one of only a handful of Canadian hospitals capable of installing the new mechanical hearts.

Until now, mechanical hearts were considered temporary devices designed to assist a diseased or damaged heart, in order to bridge the gap to a heart transplant. Patients who developed shock after suffering a heart attack were considered for mechanical hearts as a bridge to transplant for example. "This new technology allows the patient’s own heart to recover its normal function, thereby avoiding a heart transplant altogether", says Dr. Renzo Cecere, Director of the Mechanical Assist Program and Surgical Director of the Heart Failure and Heart Transplant Program of the MUHC.

The new mechanical hearts, which were authorized for use in Canada two weeks ago, are designed to permit recovery of heart function in some patients with heart failure. The new devices are less damaging to implant than the previous options; they are also less expensive. "Over all the new mechanical hearts are vastly superior to the old, in every respect," says Dr. Cecere. "They can be easily removed from the patient when their heart recovers and they cut operating time from 2-3 hours to less than one hour, which also reduces bleeding and infection risk."

The MUHC has the largest mechanical heart program in Quebec, capable of conducting the most complex surgical procedures and implanting an array of specialized devices suitable for each patient’s needs; it is also the first program in the country to implement this new "bridge-to-recovery" technology. "We have the kind of comprehensive multi-disciplinary program that is vital in order to successfully conduct this kind of procedure," noted Dr. Cecere.

The McGill University Health Centre is a comprehensive academic health institution with an international reputation for excellence in clinical programs, research and teaching. The MUHC is a merger of five teaching hospitals affiliated with the Faculty of Medicine at McGill University--the Montreal Children’s, Montreal General, Royal Victoria, and Montreal Neurological Hospitals, as well as the Montreal Chest Institute. Building on the tradition of medical leadership of the founding hospitals, the goal of the MUHC is to provide patient care based on the most advanced knowledge in the health care field, and to contribute to the development of new knowledge.

Ian Popple | MUHC
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