A compact extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) system built for mobility was greeted with enthusiasm at the Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS) virtual meeting.
The Breethe Oxy-1 machine was designed for prolonged use in critically ill patients, providing veno-venous or veno-arterial support in either bedside or portable modes. Another notable feature of Breethe is the divided gas path design that separates oxygenation from carbon dioxide removal, according to Bartley Griffith, MD, of University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore.
At the STS meeting, the ambulatory ECMO system informally won the “Shark Tank” session with 42% of audience votes.
Abiomed had acquired the device in May 2020. In October, the company received FDA 510(k) clearance for the Breethe to be used for ECMO in cardiogenic shock or respiratory failure for a maximum of 6 hours at a time.
Throughout the pandemic, critical care specialists have stressed the potential benefit of ECMO in COVID-19 patients with severe respiratory failure. Not all patients who receive ECMO survive, however, and there are not nearly enough machines for potential candidates.
Griffith described the young woman who was the first person to use the Breethe device in December 2020. She was able to walk down the hallway after having been on traditional ECMO in the ICU, he said.
Ultimately, Breethe was designed for someone like her “to run into the cafeteria when she’s hungry,” he told the audience.
Other competitors at STS “Shark Tank” included:
- An aortic cross-clamp with a detachable head that applies force evenly for a less traumatic clamp.
- A smartphone app that aids communication during organ procurement and transplantation for improved personnel productivity, shorter case times, and fewer organs wasted.
- The StrokeShield left atrial appendage occluder that leaves no peri-device flow or residual space.
- An augmented reality system that adds vitals, imaging data, and more to a surgeon’s view; additionally, those wearing the headset can have the camera recording live and take annotations in real time.
- A novel specimen extraction sleeve that can fit large tissue samples through small incisions during minimally invasive surgery.
“It’s encouraging to see heart surgery is still alive and thriving with very innovative ideas,” said session co-moderator William Cohn, MD, of Johnson & Johnson and the Center for Device Innovation at the Texas Medical Center in Houston.