New heart monitor saving lives after surgery - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

New heart monitor saving lives after surgery

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FLINT (WJRT) -

(10/23/12) - A new tool may help save more lives after heart surgery. What happens in the moments just after a person has heart surgery can make 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."

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."

Soon after, Vanessa had a massive heart attack. "Twenty doctors for 5 minutes a piece, pumped my heart."

After bypass surgery, doctors used a brand new device to monitor Vanessa's cardiac function right at the bedside, without wheeling her to another room for an echo-cardiogram.

"This now really allows us a minute-to-minute evaluation of the patient as we change medical management," says Dr. Nicholas Cavarocchi of Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.

Inserted into the esophagus, the hTEE probe allows doctors to watch the heart's pumping function and volume in real-time. That helps them decide whether to add or subtract IV medications in an instant.

"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 says.

Rasheed just knows he has his mom back. "I'm so thankful that I have a second chance with my mom."

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.

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