BYU Researchers Explore Safer Open-Heart Surgery

  Heart-lung bypass machines save lives by making it possible for surgeons to perform open-heart surgery. But the quality of those lives, at least in the short-term, is often degraded by poorly understood aftereffects that leave some patients with memory and personality struggles. 

A new study by Brigham Young University researchers suggests that a phenomenon in the blood of some patients could be putting them at a higher risk for these mental problems. 

The phenomenon, which occurs in some people and not others, is observable when platelets -- blood cells that aid in clotting -- aggregate when extracted from the body and cooled to room temperature. When platelet aggregates are re-introduced into a person's circulatory system, they are known to reduce or stop blood flow, leading to complications like stroke and stroke-related symptoms. 

“Patients with this particular phenomenon in their blood may to be at increased risk during procedures where blood is chilled outside the body to reduce the oxygen requirements of the brain,” said Ken Solen, a professor of chemical engineering, whose research interest focuses on the reaction of blood to man-made materials. “The implication is that we may need to intervene for those patients before surgery to block the phenomenon.” 

The research, funded by a grant from the Deseret Foundation at LDS Hospital, is reported in the June 29 issue of the journal “Perfusion.” Joining Solen on the study are BYU associate professor of psychology and neuroscience Ramona Hopkins, then-BYU graduate student Matthew Hall, LDS Hospital heart surgeon James Long and pathologist S. Fazal Mohammad of the University of Utah.

For more, see:

BYU News Article

Return to College News page.