Research grant awarded for congenital heart disease treatments

Thursday 21 March 2013

Cardiologist with Evelina patient

Action Medical Research for Children have awarded £149,374 for research into developing a special stent to treat congenital heart disease in children.

Congenital heart disease is one of the most common and important birth defects in children, however the current treatments available often lead to complications and further operations later in life.

The grant has been awarded to doctors and researchers at Evelina Children’s Hospital, The Royal Free Hospital, and University College London.

Devices called stents are commonly used by surgeons in the treatment of conditions such as congenital heart disease. A slender tube (stent) can be inserted into blood vessels to provide support like a scaffold. This helps to keep the vessel open improving blood flow.

Stents can be made from different materials and coated stents have a thin surface covering. There are a number of limitations and complications in using these devices in children, such as rupturing of blood vessels during implantation, clot formation and a mismatch in the diameter of the implant and vessel after a few years due to growth of the child. Current PTFE-covered stents have a high rate of blockage due to the materials and have low expandability, which results in clinical complications and repair procedures as the child grows.

The research aims to develop a covered stent specifically tailored for children with congenital heart disease. Their aim is to replace the current stents with a novel re-expandable covered stent.

Cardiac surgery at the Evelina Children’s Hospital was recently rated highest in the country for safety.

Last updated: March 2013

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