Tissue Regeneration Used to Rebuild Patients’ Heart Structures


July 8, 2009

July 8, 2009 - Marc Gerdisch, M.D., director of cardiothoracic surgery at the St. Francis Heart Center and a partner at Cardiac Surgery Associates, is using the CorMatrix Extracellular Matrix (ECM) to modify and repair cardiac structures, allowing heart tissue to regrow inside the beating hearts of heart surgery patients. The CorMatrix ECM is a unique biomaterial that harnesses the body’s innate ability to repair damaged heart tissue. Over time, it is replaced by the patient’s own tissue.

“The use of this biomaterial is a major advancement in cardiac surgery and allows us to provide our patients with restoration of normal anatomic structures. It opens the door to a new level of cardiac tissue reconstruction,” said Dr. Gerdisch.

In August 2007, Dr. Gerdisch, who specializes in complex heart valve surgery, became the first in the world to apply this technology inside the heart, repairing a congenital defect.

“Similar uses of the ECM followed at our and other institutions,” reported Dr. Gerdisch, who is codirector of the St. Francis Midwest Heart Valve Center. “Then, in March 2008, we performed the first enlargement of the path blood follows as it exits in the heart using the CorMatrix ECM, in lieu of a prosthetic device, for a patient undergoing valve surgery.”

The first mitral valve reconstruction using CorMatrix occurred at St. Francis Heart Center in October of 2008. A patient’s valve had developed large defects because of infection. CorMatrix patches restored the valve to normal function and helped avoid a replacement.

“We have been able to make similar repairs for other patients since,” added Gerdisch.

The CorMatrix ECM is derived from porcine small intestines and is processed in a way that removes all cells, leaving the complex structural matrix intact. Once surgically implanted, it serves as a scaffold, allowing the patient’s cells to infiltrate and ultimately replace the ECM scaffold.

While the patient continues to heal, the matrix is gradually replaced as the body reinforces and remodels the tissue. In the past, tissue replacement has been limited by options for implantation.

Animal tissue implants are subject to calcium deposition and hardening because the body recognizes them as foreign. Synthetic material lacks the performance characteristics of tissue and causes an inflammatory response. ECM, however, leads to growth of functional tissue where scarring would normally be expected.

For more information: www.cardiactissuerepair.net