Probing hearts in real-time

November 24, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
The crucial moments after a person has heart surgery can mean the difference between life and death. Now a first of its kind device is helping doctors monitor heart patients like never before.

For Vanessa Neely-Peterson, it's the little things like washing her own dishes that she doesn't take for granted anymore.

"I appreciate life. I look at life differently. I'm more humble," Vanessa told Action News.

Her son Rasheen remembers the night his mom almost died.

"She called me and fussed me out, saying why I didn't do the dishes and stuff like that," Rasheen Neely-Peterson said.

Soon after, Vanessa had a massive heart attack.

"20 doctors for 5 minutes a-piece pumped my heart so the blood would go to my brain," Vanessa said.

After bypass surgery, doctors used a first of its kind device to monitor Vanessa's cardiac function right at the bedside, without an echo-cardiogram.

"This now really allows us a minute-to-minute evaluation of the patient as we change medical management," Dr. Nicholas Cavarocchi, M.D., Director of Surgical Intensive Care at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital said.

The hTee probe allows doctors to watch in real-time the heart's pumping function and volume, helping them decide whether to add or subtract IV medications in an instant. The monitor can be used on patients for up to 72 hours.

"So with the probe we were able to differentiate reasons for her low cardiac output syndrome, avoid a return trip to the operating room," Dr. Cavarocchi said.

"I'm so thankful that I have a second chance with my mom," Rasheen said.

A chance this family is happy to take advantage of.

The monitor can be used on patients for up to 72 hours. The doctor says it's changing how he practices medicine because it helps him make safer, more informed decisions when it comes to patient care.

If you would like more information, please contact:

Lee-Ann Landis
Media Relations
Thomas Jefferson University Hospital
(215) 955-2240


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