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Health Beat: Small devices for small patients

By Melanie Falcon, Anchor / Reporter, @Melanie_Falcon, MFalcon@wfmz.com
Published On: Sep 06 2013 12:09:41 PM CDT
Updated On: Sep 06 2013 04:56:21 PM CDT

A warning for expectant mothers: one in every 100 newborns has a heart problem.

CLEVELAND -

A warning for expectant mothers: one in every 100 newborns has a heart problem. Until now, these babies were treated with the same devices used in adults.

Little Vivian Andorf had her first heart surgery when she was just two hours old.

"She's missing one chamber of her heart. Veins going from her lungs to her heart, they are progressively narrow," said Margaret Andorf, Vivian's mom.

So far, Vivian’s had seven surgeries and six cauterizations.

"I’ve seen the caths and they're just these big long tubes and you just can't imagine how they get in," Andorf said.

"Most of the equipment that we use was designed and developed and produced for adults," said Dr. Alex Golden, pediatric cardiologist at Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital.

Imagine a wire the size of the cord on your headphones, snaking through a tiny baby. Using adult-sized catheters, doctors can damage access vessels in the groin and cause a blockage.

Golden is the first pediatric cardiologist in the United States to use a new approved catheter for kids. 

"Having a cath that is 20 percent smaller than the smallest one we were using previously, I think, that’s a great benefit," Golden explained.

"It feels like we have so much hope," Andorf said. Hope that a newborn given just a five percent chance of survival will beat the odds.

Vivian has one more surgery planned for this year. The new catheter is the first in the U.S. to be approved specifically for children.

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DOWNLOAD and VIEW the full-length interview with Dr. Alex Golden about treating babies born with heart problems