Engineering Innovation Podcast and Radio Series

Heart Holder

PostedNovember 9, 2008

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Randy Atkins: A weakened heart tries to increase its pumping ability by expanding.  But that stretches its walls, causing further damage.  Bilal Shafi, a University of Pennsylvania surgeon and bioengineer, proposes surrounding the heart with a bag-like bandage while it heals.

Bilal Shafi: It reduces the mechanical stress on the wall of the heart.

Randy Atkins: A biocompatible liquid would go through a catheter inserted through a tiny hole beneath your breastbone…

Bilal Shafi: …and that basically goes inside the sack that surrounds around your heart and that delivers the liquid around the heart that will form an elastic gel.

Randy Atkins: The gel allows the heart to beat normally…but won’t let it expand too far.  Shafi says that mechanical support lets the heart to heal and, after six months the gel degrades away naturally.  With the National Academy of Engineering, Randy Atkins, 103 point 5 F-M, WTOP Radio.


The procedure is already being tested in animals, and Shafi says it may be ready for human trials in about three years.  To find out more about this story, go to and type in keyword “Engineering Innovation” or go to N-A-E – dot – E-D-U – slash – RADIO.