CHICAGO. (KFSN) --Technology used to keep astronauts cool in their spacesuits and protect our soldiers from brain injuries on the battlefield is now being used on heart patients. The idea is to induce hypothermia in the head during surgery to protect it.
For Roland Flessner, biking is a lifestyle.
Flessner told Ivanhoe, "I've been a year- round bike commuter here in Chicago for 24 years and I've ridden about 60,000 miles just commuting."
But last year, he suddenly found his bike rides becoming exhausting.
"I just knew something was wrong," Flessner explained.
Diagnosed with an aortic aneurysm, he scheduled surgery.
Flessner said, "He (the doctor) described it as being similar to a bulge in a bike tire."
Roland's surgeon, Paul Pearson, MD, PhD, Cardiovascular Surgeon at NorthShore University HealthSystem Cardiovascular Institute in Chicago is one of the first to use this new "cooling cap" device to help prevent complications during heart surgery, such as delirium and memory loss.
Dr. Pearson told Ivanhoe, "We are trying to develop a system where we can better allow patients to wake up without a lot of the side effects that they commonly have from general anesthesia."
The "cooling cap" is placed on a patient's head during surgery. Liquid coolant induces hypothermia without impacting the rest of the body...and is thought to help speed recovery.
"Inflammation, free radicals, all the bad actors that you hear about that can cause temporary dysfunction of the brain. We're trying to minimize those," Dr. Pearson explained.
Roland is back at work with no impairment to his memory.
"I just feel really lucky," he said. And he's back on his beloved bike.
Dr. Pearson says the "cooling cap" may also one day be used to treat athletes for sports concussions.
If you would like more information, please contact:
Candice Warltier, Principal
Communication Strategies Group, Inc.