HeartShield has been developed to address a serious problem occurring during negative pressure wound therapy used to treat deep sternal wound infection following midline sternotomy. Midline sternotomy is the most common incision in cardiac surgery.
Up to 5% of such patients will suffer from deep sternal wound infection (DSWI), which is often deadly. DSWI is also very expensive. Post-sternotomy patients with DSWI have significantly longer in-hospital lengths of stay (LOS) with much higher costs compared to those without DSWI. For example, one study found that DSWI almost triples the costs of coronary artery bypass surgery while doubling LOS (to 34.4 days from 16.5 days).
Negative pressure wound therapy (NPWT) involves applying a vacuum to a wound to facilitate drainage of wound fluid. Because of its efficacy, NPWT has become a standard treatment for DSWI. However, NPWT for DSWI causes right ventricular rupture in up to 7% of patients as a result of suction force drawing the heart up toward the thoracic wall with subsequent bulging of the ventricle into the space between the sharp sternal edges. These sharp edges then cut the heart, with sometimes lethal results.
HeartShield solves this problem by protecting the heart from the sharp sternal edges during NPWT. HeartShield is expected to help cardiac surgeons and other healthcare professionals by preventing iatrogenic injury while reducing healing time. In addition, it will add to patient comfort while diminishing the risk of more serious and life threatening complications. And from a broader healthcare perspective, the costs and additional resources that HeartShield can avoid, including costs of surgery, ICU care, peripheral ward care, and laboratory tests, are significant.