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Engineer Designs His Own Heart Valve Implant

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the when-you-want-something-done-right dept.

Medicine 151

nametaken writes "In 2000, Tal Golesworthy, a British engineer, was told that he suffers from Marfan syndrome, a disorder of the connective tissue that often causes rupturing of the aorta. The only solution then available was the pairing of a mechanical valve and a highly risky blood thinner. To an engineer like Golesworthy, that just wasn't good enough. So he constructed his own implant that does the job better than the existing solution--and became the first patient to try it."

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404 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35016354)

the is gone ... 404

Re:404 (2)

norpy (1277318) | more than 3 years ago | (#35016548)

Does popsci redirect to a regional version of the site? If so that would cause the 404, I can't load the article because of this.

Karma Beating.. (1, Interesting)

nanospook (521118) | more than 3 years ago | (#35016372)

It's good to be born for a purpose..

Re:Karma Beating.. (5, Funny)

yoblin (692322) | more than 3 years ago | (#35016414)

Yeah, it's nice when you can really put your heart into something.

Re:Karma Beating.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35016760)

But the wuss didn't install it himself.

Re:Karma Beating.. (2)

Mitchell314 (1576581) | more than 3 years ago | (#35016828)

Yeah, it pumps me up to do something great too.

Re:Karma Beating.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35017740)

Instead of fighting to figure out the exact dimensions all by himself, he could have just flown to the "Land of the Brave and Home of the Free" (intentional switch there) and asked TSA for his own backscatter image in an ''xcruciatingly nice way.

Re:Karma Beating.. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35017452)

Yeah, it's nice when you can really put something into your heart .

There, fixed that for you.

Inventor CV (4, Informative)

Saija (1114681) | more than 3 years ago | (#35016378)

here [edtltd.co.uk]

Re:Inventor CV (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35016534)

Deer stalking!

Re:Inventor CV (1)

Saija (1114681) | more than 3 years ago | (#35016614)

yeah i also saw that and think: wtf? searchig that i've found it to be some kind of requirement to hunt legally in the uk

Link to Original Article (4, Informative)

PatPending (953482) | more than 3 years ago | (#35016382)

Fuck POPSCI, here's the link to the original article [theengineer.co.uk] (Warning: graphic photographs)

Re:Link to Original Article (3, Informative)

noidentity (188756) | more than 3 years ago | (#35016474)

Highlights:

'It seemed to me to be pretty obvious that you could scan the heart structure, model it with a CAD routine, then use RP [rapid prototyping] to create a former on which to manufacture a device,' explained Golesworthy. 'In a sense, conceptually, it was very simple to do. Actually engineering that was significantly more complex.'

Golesworthy believes that projects such as this demonstrate that the interface between engineers and the rest of the world isn't functioning in the way it should. 'When it does function, huge advances can be made in a very short time period, on very little money,' he said. 'We have changed the world for people with aortic dilation and we have done it on a fraction of the cost.'

In May 2004, Golesworthy became the first recipient of his own invention after undergoing surgery at the Royal Brompton Hospital. Since then, 23 patients have successfully had the implant fitted and another seven are hoping to undergo the procedure. According to Golesworthy, the technique will soon replace the Bentall procedure and could be used to treat other heart conditions.

Wrapping the aorta with artificial material isn't a new idea. More than 20 years ago, US surgeon Francis Robicsek attempted to fashion an external, hand-tailored support for the aorta. The proposal was made before the widespread use of CAD, MRI and RP. Materials such as polypropylene, nylon and knitted Dacron were proposed, with Dacron being the most popular. However, attempting to accurately recreate the shape of the aorta using material cut during surgery proved extremely difficult and the technique never caught on. Instead, off-the-shelf composite valve conduits were offered as a more realistic solution. 'Technology has allowed us to revisit the idea,' said Golesworthy. 'The aorta is such an extraordinary shape that you can't possibly do it by a "taking a yoghurt pot I prepared earlier'. The only way was to bring scanning, CAD and RP together.'

Re:Link to Original Article (2)

sycodon (149926) | more than 3 years ago | (#35016902)

"...interface between engineers and the rest of the world..."

What interface?

Re:Link to Original Article (3, Insightful)

guruevi (827432) | more than 3 years ago | (#35016950)

Communications. The people that design your meds and implants are doctors and PhD's. They actually have very little understanding of solving problems in the real world. I work in the field as a support staff but actually graduated in industrial electronics. I recently had to explain 3 PhD's from the EE department how to interface a 10MHz optical signal with a coax cable - they were going to rework the whole link, I recommended they buy a media converter.

Um... (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 3 years ago | (#35017492)

In May 2004, Golesworthy became the first recipient of his own invention after undergoing surgery at the Royal Brompton Hospital.

In May 2004...? Kudos to the guy and all, but this "news" is older than Youtube. Bush was still in his first term of office, and Slashdot had a usable interface.

Re:Um... (3, Insightful)

Another, completely (812244) | more than 3 years ago | (#35017514)

But in 2004, they couldn't have had this bit:

Since then, 23 patients have successfully had the implant fitted and another seven are hoping to undergo the procedure.

and without that it's just lucky.

Re:Link to Original Article (1)

blackest_k (761565) | more than 3 years ago | (#35017724)

You missed this quote

'My aorta was dilating all through that period,' said Golesworthy. 'When you've got the scalpel of Damocles hanging over your sternum, it motivates you into making things happen and so they do...to me it seemed like a ridiculously obvious solution. The only way to do this was with CAD and RP. It shouldn't have taken an engineer to realise that, but it did.'

Read more: http://www.theengineer.co.uk/in-depth/analysis/uk-engineer-develops-own-life-saving-implant/1006877.article#ixzz1CE3SD5am [theengineer.co.uk]

That's really putting your life on the line, you don't see bravery like that very often.

I also quite like the code which took the quote and links back to the original article with a standard copy and paste

Re:Link to Original Article (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35016490)

(Warning: graphic photographs)

I sure hope so; all these ascii photographs around the webs have been driving me nuts.

Re:Link to Original Article (1)

demonlapin (527802) | more than 3 years ago | (#35016540)

That's not a graphic photo. Try looking up Fournier's gangrene. THAT is graphic. (No link, it's up to you. Googling the images is NSFW, but mainly because it's disgusting.)

Re:Link to Original Article (2)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 3 years ago | (#35016546)

I hate you.

Thanks,
MyLongNickName

Re:Link to Original Article (1)

demonlapin (527802) | more than 3 years ago | (#35016556)

Don't stop with the first page. You need the pre-op AND the post-op.

Nothing to see here... move^W read along (4, Informative)

vlueboy (1799360) | more than 3 years ago | (#35016894)

It's a perineum gangrene (pubic area) acording to the internet. Grangrenes are painful rotting of living tissue and require amputation lest you get infected from the necrotic tissue; I suppose its picture has lots of black tissue where you expect skin colors, pus, gore, lots of rotting and hanging skin, and unkempt pubic hairs, and badly decayed sexual organs; male and female.

We see tons of hearts on TV, and they're beating --not rotting-- while being operating on, unhealthy as they may be at the moment. No, there's no need to see a picture of your proposed comparison to sober up. But thanks for letting us inspect how bad things can get.

Re:Nothing to see here... move^W read along (1)

Kilrah_il (1692978) | more than 3 years ago | (#35017428)

Hey, it could be worse [slashdot.org] .

Re:Link to Original Article (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35016704)

Thanks for the link. Wish /. did more 'informative' linking when it calls for it, as it does here.

As for the story, this guy is BADASS, and I applaud the medical community in this case for keeping an open mind. Using MRI, CAD, RP (rapid prototyping) would probably seem pretty obvious for a lot of possible medical solutions, especially after diagnosis.

Onto the gripes.... Is there REALLY that much of a disconnect between the medical industry, bio-engineering, if this falls within that scope, and giving patients better options than mechanical implementations and blood thinners? As was the motivation here. Is the medical industry, not healthcare, really become this myopic with regard to the use of technology, and implementing new procedures and solutions? Guess it's hard to push your field into the unknown when the pharmaceutical industry is knocking on your door with the latest re-patent that's twice the price, and a medical mal-practice suit just a phone call away.

There's a reason the call it practicing medicine. There is a difference between a mistake while under the knfe, and a forced 18 hour surgical rotation to keep up the 'standard' of innitiation. I just wish more people would remember that, with any field that deals with personal matters, communication is key. This story illustrates what should be standard form in our current technologica era.

Obligatory...Oh, physician?... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35016384)

...heal thyself!

Re:Obligatory...Oh, physician?... (2)

plover (150551) | more than 3 years ago | (#35016562)

...heal thyself!

Engineer - repair thyself!

Anyone can do it (5, Funny)

Lord_of_the_nerf (895604) | more than 3 years ago | (#35016390)

I knew a conceptual artist who tried the same thing.

I miss him.

Re:Anyone can do it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35016446)

I laughed too hard at this

Re:Anyone can do it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35016836)

I once had a friend that tried a penis enlargement procedure using a firecracker. Fortunately the explosion wasn't large and she's doing find now.

Re:Anyone can do it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35016852)

She still hasn't found it??!

Hardcore... (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#35016442)

Harder-core still, of course, would be designing and implanting it yourself. While quite rare, DIY abdominal surgery is possible and documented....

Re:Hardcore... (3, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 3 years ago | (#35016592)

Implanting a heart valve of your own design into your own chest would only be made sweeter if it had been fabricated on your own 3D printer.

Re:Hardcore... (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 3 years ago | (#35017172)

But the insurance would never cover that..

And if something goes wrong with your DIY surgery, your family can't sue your corpse for malpractice/wrongful death

Quick! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35016444)

Someone give this man AIDS!

Re:Quick! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35016876)

I'm on it.

yay for engineers! (5, Funny)

prakslash (681585) | more than 3 years ago | (#35016454)

As an engineer by training, I find this to be very cool.

I myself suffer from a physical... ahem.. shortcoming.
So, just like this engineer, I designed and constructed a solution using a banana and some duct tape.
My wife loves it!
After reading this article, I am thinking I will go ahead and publicize my invention.
Another yay for engineers!

Re:yay for engineers! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35016494)

As a biomedical engineer and cardiac surgeon in training, this makes me ridiculously excited!

Re:yay for engineers! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35016672)

I myself suffer from a physical... ahem.. shortcoming.
So, just like this engineer, I designed and constructed a solution using a banana and some duct tape.
My wife loves it!

Do you ever get to join in?

Re:yay for engineers! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35016890)

If your wife needs to peel it before using it, there's another kind of surgery for that!

Liar (0)

sycodon (149926) | more than 3 years ago | (#35016918)

Engineers don't have wives.

But the Sheep will love it I bet.

More medical engineers (3, Interesting)

Mahonrimoriancumer (302464) | more than 3 years ago | (#35016468)

Stories like this make me proud of my alma mater, Colorado School of Mines, for having a bio-medical engineering minor for mechanical engineers. We need more engineers working in medicine.

Re:More medical engineers (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35016502)

They should have a full Biomedical Engineering major program of study. Then you can be proud.

By any chance was this guys actual name... (3, Funny)

Coraon (1080675) | more than 3 years ago | (#35016470)

Tony Stark? Because if so I want to talk to him now about building a few other upgrades for me.

Re:By any chance was this guys actual name... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35016520)

Came in here to say this. Leaving, satisfied.

Re:By any chance was this guys actual name... (1)

nerdonamotorcycle (710980) | more than 3 years ago | (#35017214)

You might want to avoid the "In a cave, with a box of scraps" part.

Like God said (3, Funny)

elashish14 (1302231) | more than 3 years ago | (#35016480)

Do it yourself ;-)

Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35016482)

I can only hope to become an engineer with such a great and benificial impact.

Re:Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35016538)

If you're on that path then so do I! :)

Not really the whole story... (4, Interesting)

demonlapin (527802) | more than 3 years ago | (#35016522)

There's no need - and hasn't been for a long time, at least 15-20 years - to put in a mechanical valve just for aortic valve disease. There are cadaveric (organ-donor) valves and porcine (pig-heart) valves available. They don't last as long as the mechanical ones, but they don't need anticoagulation. Given that he had Marfan syndrome, however, it's quite likely that the problem was a valve-and-aortic-root problem, just like the Bentall procedure I did the anesthesia for today, which does better with a mechanical valve. His solution is impressive: no quibbles on that here. Imaging a heart to get dimensions is hideously difficult. Getting a 3D model of the aorta is some fine engineering in itself.

However, he has mostly transferred the problem downstream - the root of the aorta is the most elastic part of a very elastic vessel, and transmitting the higher pressure downstream (which his aorta-corset will do) will lead to increased ballooning of the segment closest to the heart. The hard part is to make sure that that segment can handle it for the remainder of his expected lifespan.

Re:Not really the whole story... (2)

noidentity (188756) | more than 3 years ago | (#35016654)

The hard part is to make sure that that segment can handle it for the remainder of his expected lifespan.

As long as it handles it without fail for the rest of his life, isn't that long enough? Oh, wait...

Re:Not really the whole story... (3, Funny)

demonlapin (527802) | more than 3 years ago | (#35016686)

Reminds me of the greatest Pratchett quote ever:

"Give a man a fire and he's warm for the day, but set fire to him and he's warm for the rest of his life."

Re:Not really the whole story... (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 3 years ago | (#35016738)

Yes, exactly. I like this wording, as it hides the punch line better:

Build a man a fire and he's warm for the day;

set a man afire and he's warm for the rest of his life.

Re:Not really the whole story... (2)

Graff (532189) | more than 3 years ago | (#35016666)

There are cadaveric (organ-donor) valves and porcine (pig-heart) valves available. They don't last as long as the mechanical ones, but they don't need anticoagulation.

But they do need immunosuppressants. That's still a heck of a trade-off!

I guess that anticoagulants might be worse than immunosuppressants but they both introduce plenty of complications.

Re:Not really the whole story... (2)

demonlapin (527802) | more than 3 years ago | (#35016736)

But they do need immunosuppressants

Organs, yes. Cadaveric valves, no. Porcine, yes. That's why the cadaveric valves have become more popular. Sorry, I should have made that more clear.

Re:Not really the whole story... (2)

Graff (532189) | more than 3 years ago | (#35017142)

Organs, yes. Cadaveric valves, no. Porcine, yes.

Ahh, I wasn't aware that the cadaveric valves didn't require immunosuppressants. How do they achieve that? I imagine they can somehow strip off the markers which would trigger an immune response.

That definitely makes a great case for using a cadaveric valve, I wonder why they didn't go that route.

Re:Not really the whole story... (3, Informative)

Kilrah_il (1692978) | more than 3 years ago | (#35017448)

When you transplant an organ, it is connected to blood vessels and thus is exposed to the immune system. When you put in biologic valves, no blood vessels are connected and there is no immune rejection. We do not understand completely why they are not rejected, because obviously they do get some blood, since they aren't ischemic, but I believe it has to do with the lack of good blood supply.
BTW, as far as I know Porcine valves also do not need immunosuppresion, same as corneal implants.

Re:Not really the whole story... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35016786)

Whow. . . no wonder your gas-passer. . . no bedside manner--at all!

Re:Not really the whole story... (2)

MrQuacker (1938262) | more than 3 years ago | (#35016884)

I thought GE had scanners for sale that can do just that? Take a 3D MRI of a heart beating and display/record it in real-time. At 80 beats a minute, and 30 frames a second, not that much would be needed to collect still images of the heart in the same position of every beat. Recording it in 3D also makes a CAD scan of the heart easy to create.

Re:Not really the whole story... (3, Interesting)

guruevi (827432) | more than 3 years ago | (#35016980)

Yes, they have really nice sales representations when a lot of data is collected, processed and interpolated (which can be done almost on the fly these days). In the field it doesn't work that well, there are still quite some artifacts and issues where doctors will miss things because they weren't visible. It works good enough to see big things like growths or major defects but I wouldn't trust it to make a precise valve replacement.

Re:Not really the whole story... (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 3 years ago | (#35017904)

House would, and that's good enough for me.

Re:Not really the whole story... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35017026)

Great, so now you have a video of all those wonderful 3D slices of the heart in motion. Now, how do you tell the computer which bits of the video are heart and which bits are not? Keep in mind that you are dealing with a object doing complex motion through three dimensions as interpreted by 2D slices in a greyscale format. As far as image recognition problems go, this one is HARD. There is a reason that MRI techs are really highly trained to read the images and get anything useful out of them. If you were to do it purely by software recognition my guess is that we are shading into AI-hard territory.

Turning that information into usable data probably represented a significant portion of the total effort involved.

Physics (4, Interesting)

Roger W Moore (538166) | more than 3 years ago | (#35016886)

the root of the aorta is the most elastic part of a very elastic vessel, and transmitting the higher pressure downstream (which his aorta-corset will do)

I'm not a medic but I am a physicist and what you say does not make sense from a physics point of view. If you take a bulge in a pipe containing a flowing liquid and squeeze it back down to the diameter of the rest of the pipe you do not increase the pressure lower down. In fact, if anything, you will reduce it because the narrower pipe will have a larger pressure drop along it due to viscous flow.

This is not the same as squeezing a closed, static system, like a balloon where squeezing it at one point reduces the volume considerable which does increase the pressure causing the unrestricted part to bulge. Yes, technically there is a volume change by restricting the aorta but surely this is only a small fraction of the total circulatory system and even then wouldn't this just cause the body to eventually reduce the amount of blood in circulation by that amount?

So unless, I have over simplified something (not taking account of the pulsed flow for example), I don't see from a purely physics perspective how it would make the pressure lower down any higher and so make the situation worse. There may be medical reasons for for increased concern but not the pressure reason you state above.

Re:Physics (1)

lightbox32 (1903946) | more than 3 years ago | (#35016974)

I'm not a doctor but my understanding is that during systole (cardiac compression) blood leaves the heart at high pressure (120mm Hg). By expanding, the aorta helps buffer this rise in pressure, and helps gets blood flowing at a constant rate and pressure in the arteoles. If the aorta can't expand due to the corset this high pressure burst will continue further down the circulatory system.

Re:Physics (1)

deek (22697) | more than 3 years ago | (#35017208)

I'm not a doctor nor a physicist. That won't stop me from using my intuition, though. By preventing aorta expansion, this should actually increase back pressure on the aorta. The heart will not be able to squeeze down as much, due to the increased back pressure, leading to less liquid escaping. The reduced volume of liquid going through the aorta will decrease pressure further on in the system.

Re:Physics (2)

Kilrah_il (1692978) | more than 3 years ago | (#35017460)

I'm not a doctor, not a physicist and not an engineer, but... Wait, I am a doctor... and I like physics, although I'm not a physicists. And what does an engineer do?
What was I saying?
damn

Re:Physics (1)

michelcolman (1208008) | more than 3 years ago | (#35017628)

The pulsed flow is indeed exactly what you needed to take into account. The heart pumps out some amount of blood when it contracts, and the elasticity of the aorta makes this pressure change less abrupt downstream. If you keep the aorta from expanding, the pressure peaks downstream will be higher. Average pressure should remain about the same.

Re:Physics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35017704)

Any time in the body there is a narrowing in a vessel (stenosis) there will be a post-stenotic dilatation.

I am not an engineer.

I do not know the physics underlying this.

The dynamics are more complex than simple pipes though - I think more akin to your balloon model.

This is from years of observation (not mine, I've only been practising for 10 years) and I don't know what expections there are.

Re:Not really the whole story... (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 3 years ago | (#35017304)

Well, the issue isn't so much that there's more pressure than normal - it's that the existing part couldn't cope with the pressure. Reinforcing it shouldn't pose any issues as long as the pressure level was normal to begin with.

Re:Not really the whole story... (2)

Kilrah_il (1692978) | more than 3 years ago | (#35017480)

A cadaveric valve lasts for about 8 years, give or take. I didn't see anywhere the engineer's age, but I can assume he is somewhere in his 40's or 50's. That means he will have to replace the valve about 4-5 times, assuming he reaches 80. I myself wouldn't like the idea of another 4-5 open heart surgeries in my lifetime. OTOH, at an older age, the valve may last longer (10-15y), and thus there might not be a need to replace it.
Today a biological valve is usually reserved for older patients, while younger ones get a mechanical valve.

Well, how does it work? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35016532)

I assume it is a valve replacement but nowhere in any article did I see a description of how it works or if it even any different from the existing artificial heart valve designs.

Re:Well, how does it work? (3, Informative)

robbak (775424) | more than 3 years ago | (#35016880)

From reading the theengineer.co.uk article, it seems that it is a precisely created wrapping around the outside of the bulging aorta, supporting it. The 'breakthrough' is using medical imaging and 3D printing to make a model of his aorta, so the wrapping can be made accurately before the operation. Previous attempts where the aorta had to be measured and the support created during the operation had been tried unsuccessfully.

Engineering seems slow in this area (1)

lseltzer (311306) | more than 3 years ago | (#35016604)

About 20 years ago my father had his aortic valve replaced (due to plaque buildup). He got a mechanical valve. While they were in there they did a bunch of bypasses for which they had to take venus grafts from his legs. I asked his cardiologist why there weren't any synthetic grafts. Harvesting the veins just seems like an opportunity for infection to me. He just said that there weren't any and seemed uninterested in the question. BTW, Mehmet Oz, Dr. Oz from TV, did the surgery. He had just done Frank Torre's heart transplant the year before.

Re:Engineering seems slow in this area (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35016752)

Developing synthetic grafts isn't a very interesting question because it's unlikely that you'll be able to develop something better than the patient's own tissue. Whether it's blood, hair, skin, or veins, using the patient's own tissue is always better. The risk of infection is minimal, while eliminating any chance of rejection and having no additional cost. The only reason you would want an artificial vein is if for some reason you couldn't use the patient's.

It's like baby formula -- in reality, the only reason you need formula is when the mother can't create the milk herself (deceased, on medication, not lactating enough, can't pump, etc.).

dom

Re:Engineering seems slow in this area (4, Informative)

demonlapin (527802) | more than 3 years ago | (#35016774)

Living tissue (like a vein) is the most infection-resistant substrate. Infection is a major worry when using artificial graft material, because there isn't and won't be any blood supply to the graft. Synthetic grafts would be grossly inferior to venous grafts, which themselves are poor substitutes for arterial grafts (but there are remarkably few redundant arteries, so the question is generally moot).

Re:Engineering seems slow in this area (1)

lseltzer (311306) | more than 3 years ago | (#35017924)

So then the implant discussed here would be a major infection concern too?

I understand... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35016634)

that Portal 2 may be the most anticipated game of the year, but showing your compassion for Valve in this way is just ridiculous.

What BS (4, Interesting)

Jack9 (11421) | more than 3 years ago | (#35016638)

I have had 3 aortic valves implanted throughout my lifetime. Starting at the age of 2. I've also survived a Konno procedure and aortic stem reformation the last time around.

First of all, Warfarin is pretty fucking safe. If I take an extra 5mg pill once a week, nothing happens. Out of all the thinners, it's not exactly aspirin mild, but it's not horrendously dangerous. Like all drugs, bodies react differently and while I'm ridiculously allergic to tetracycline, I'm middle of the road for reactions to warfarin (over 30 years of it). It's always shock and awe so a news story can give infotainment. Within my lifetime thinners have gained a lot of traction (due to aging boomers). Look up replacements for warfarin. It's big money and the idea that I'll be on warfarin for the rest of my life is unrealistic. Yes I'll be on something, but that's par for a mechanical valve.

The prosthetic design he came up with, is for his specific problem, weak aortic tissue which involves the stem. As mentioned in the article, a prosthetic aorta isn't a new idea. I'm not exactly sure it's any better an idea than it used to be, nor is anyone else, with a sample size of 30ish. The meat of the story is how the prosthetic is customized. Scan, 3d model, manufacture, affordably. That is pretty radical, from the perspective of current internal medicine. This whole thing sounds like a medical device ad. What I'm more interested in, aortic valves and thinners, they demonize or don't talk about at all. Pity.

Re:What BS (1)

LordKronos (470910) | more than 3 years ago | (#35016794)

First of all, Warfarin is pretty fucking safe. If I take an extra 5mg pill once a week, nothing happens. Out of all the thinners, it's not exactly aspirin mild, but it's not horrendously dangerous.

I agree. I've been on it for 25 years without incident. The most I've ever taken extra was 2.5mg, but I have forgotten to take my 10mg dose 2 days in a row, and had no problems as a result. Perhaps other people react differently, but from my experience, I have a hard time thinking of it as risky or dangerous.

Future Clot? (1)

DigitalPig (1013935) | more than 3 years ago | (#35016720)

Well. This is amazing, though PET is well known for its possible thrombosis within 10 years post-surgery. Maybe he would need a materials scientist when designed for this.

Re:Future Clot? (1)

robbak (775424) | more than 3 years ago | (#35016906)

As it is an external stent, around the outside of the arota, not inside it like a endovascular stent, I wouldn't think that thrombosis would be an issue.

In related news, Firefox's spell-check doesn't know much about things medical.

engineer 1 medical science 0 (1)

bakamorgan (1854434) | more than 3 years ago | (#35016728)

Someone should get him a plague that says Putting Your Heart into Design and an award... just amazing.

Re:engineer 1 medical science 0 (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35016802)

Because there's no reward like a talking plague?

Re:engineer 1 medical science 0 (1)

ocdscouter (1922930) | more than 3 years ago | (#35017298)

Because there's no reward like a talking plague?

I once knew a guy that had diarrhea of the mouth...

Re:engineer 1 medical science 0 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35016946)

"plague" But that would probably kill him.

Lucky he wasn't a (3, Funny)

Compaqt (1758360) | more than 3 years ago | (#35016784)

software engineer!

R U kiddin me??? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35016844)

Way 2 get'r done!!! That is so hillbilly. Dude don't think he needs what medical science has developed, so he DESIGNS HIS OWN HEART VALVE. If that ain't hillbilly, I don't know what is!

BTW, I done took the liver out my ol' hound dog (RIP Ricky) and stuck 'er in my own gut. Believe me, I needed it!

A new heart valve and a set of 12" brass balls! (4, Interesting)

Chas (5144) | more than 3 years ago | (#35016858)

Okay, I'm a big fan of good engineering and all, but you gotta have some SERIOUSLY heavy-metal nards to be the first guy on the table for your own device for something like this!

Talk about putting your money where your mouth is!

Kudos and major man points!

Re:A new heart valve and a set of 12" brass balls! (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 3 years ago | (#35017334)

Do note this was back in 2004. Since then, at least 23 other patients have benefit from his pioneering!

Not only is his pair cast iron, but they've helped others live as well! Shit!

Should be tagged DIY Mods (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35016874)

DITYS Mods

damn. (1)

milkmage (795746) | more than 3 years ago | (#35016916)

talk about packing your own parachute...

Wow... (2)

Maxhrk (680390) | more than 3 years ago | (#35016962)

I looks on to this story with stern face.. momentarily later, i cries freely. I salutes you, Tal Golesworthy. You should win Nobel Prize for this kind of stuff! Also, you made me consider my major by looking more into engineering in university!

The attitude here saddens me (4, Insightful)

2Bits (167227) | more than 3 years ago | (#35017004)

Just a few comments, and all the negative comments already: big deal, there is nothing new here.

You know what, when I hear news like that, it really gives me more confidence in technical people (engineers, scientists, geeks, etc). The guy got a heart problem, he got the skills (with the help of doctors and others, probably) to design the best solution for himself, and in the meantime, for other people too. And guess what, he even got the ball to install it on himself first. And it seems to work just fine. What can be more cool, more geeky, more nerdy than that? Sure, it's only "a small sample of 30ish", as someone said here. So what? Even if this solution only applies to one person, it is still a fucking cool solution.

For me, I'd like to hear news like that everyday, that's news for nerds, stuff that matters. If I had kids, I would tell them this, and other similar stories, as bed-time stories everyday.

rock it roman style (1)

adavies42 (746183) | more than 3 years ago | (#35017174)

they say the romans made aquaduct engineers stand under the arches they'd built when the sluices were first opened. would that more life-critical work could be made fully salient to the people doing it....

Obligatory Simpsons (2)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 3 years ago | (#35017182)

Homer: What if instead of donating one of my old worn out kidneys, I gave grandpa that artificial kidney I invented...
Marge: Oh Homer, that was just a beer can with a whistle glued to it...

we need more engineers in more places (1)

hyperion2010 (1587241) | more than 3 years ago | (#35017256)

This is the take home message of this whole article:
Golesworthy believes that projects such as this demonstrate that the interface between engineers and the rest of the world isn’t functioning in the way it should. ’When it does function, huge advances can be made in a very short time period, on very little money,’ he said. ’We have changed the world for people with aortic dilation and we have done it on a fraction of the cost.’

doctors protect doctors (1)

stimpleton (732392) | more than 3 years ago | (#35017528)

This is an anomaly. The medical community(doctors in particular) doesn't cotton to these sorts of antics from outsiders. Just wait to this becomes more widely known amongst the Doctor fraternity. It will become like mid-wifery - a fringe practice prone to potentially costing your baby its life.

Re:doctors protect doctors (1)

dasqua (57144) | more than 3 years ago | (#35017900)

This is an anomaly. The medical community(doctors in particular) doesn't cotton to these sorts of antics from outsiders. Just wait to this becomes more widely known amongst the Doctor fraternity. It will become like mid-wifery - a fringe practice prone to potentially costing your baby its life.

Seriously, on everything in your post, WTF?!

Warfarin (1)

codeButcher (223668) | more than 3 years ago | (#35017730)

I was put on Warfarin (blood anti-coagulant, also used in some rat poisons, for the non-chem/pharm nerds) for half of last year after a bilateral pulmonary embolism (blood clots in both lungs, for the non-med nerds), following surgery.

Warfarin is a cheap drug and does not seem to affect one's health, even long-term (comparing notes with a friend who is on a lifelong prescription due to heart valve replacement). It however IS quite a b*tch for someone who loves to tinker in the workshop or garden. The slightest cut or scrape tends to bleed and bleed and bleed and .... When dressing in the morning, apart from the phone, keys, wallet, and handkerchief, I also made sure I packed a box of bandages.

I'm not sure I would go to the lengths of inventing my own medical device just to get around that nuisance.

Red Cross? (1)

6Yankee (597075) | more than 3 years ago | (#35017902)

With all the stories we've had on here about the Red Cross suing game makers for use of their logo, has Slashdot really just put a Red Cross logo on all its health articles?
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