St Jude Aortic Connector
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Coronary artery bypass surgery is a procedure that\'s performed to reduce the risk of death from coronary artery disease. In this disease, the arteries that supply blood to the heart develop blockages – a condition known as atherosclerosis. These blockages decrease the amount of oxygen delivered to the organ, and can put a person at a high risk of heart failure or heart attack. Bypass surgery is performed as a preventative measure to improve the blood supply to the heart muscle.
Several different methods are commonly implemented for coronary artery bypass surgery. One technique involves stopping the heart and using a machine to oxygenate and pump blood. Another involves performing the surgery on a beating heart – so-called "off-pump" surgery.
No matter the method used for working on the heart, all of the techniques involve harvesting arteries from the thigh to graft onto the heart. These transplanted arteries will bypass the affected coronary artery, supplying much-needed blood to the patients heart. Normally, the arteries are stitched into place by a thoracic surgeon. Since the artery has to be very secure, the surgeon has to be extremely careful. Therefore, this is usually a very time-consuming process.
A relatively new system involves using sutureless aortic connectors. In 2001, St. Jude sutureless aortic connectors were introduced to the market. These connectors allow off-machine bypass surgery while a surgeon takes leg vein grafts and places them on the aorta. They take less than a minute to put in place, and they eliminate the need for using a clamp around the aorta. This can be very beneficial for patients with particularly bad cases of atherosclerosis, when clamping the hardened aorta can break off pieces of plaque into the blood stream, causing further complications.
Unfortunately, the St. Jude aortic connector has since been linked to heart attacks, respiratory problems, and, in some cases, death. This is due to graft narrowing, valve leakage, failed deployment, and occlusion of the artery. This means that the vein is partially obstructed, not letting the blood pass through properly and creating a blockage that can lead to heart complications.
While there has been no recall of the connectors, there have been reports of deaths due to failed connectors. There was an abbreviated approval process before the aortic connectors were released. As a result, testing was not as thorough as it needed to be. Recently, some studies have reported that the connector should not be used. However, despite the reports of malfunctioning aortic connectors, the product is still on the market, and St. Jude has not notified patients who have these aortic connectors that there is a problem.
If you or a loved one has received a St. Jude aortic connector and have not been notified of the possible complications, please seek a physician's advice. You also might want to seek a lawyer who specializes in medical cases, and see if there is any claim you can make against the company, especially if the malfunction resulted in a loved one's death.
Since St. Jude has failed to notify patients of the possible defects of their aortic connectors, you might be entitled to compensation, especially if you have had a second surgery to replace the aortic connector or suffered other trauma because of the failed device.