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Imagine being able to naturally regrow your own cardiovascular tissue following heart or valve surgery.
Marc Gerdisch, M.D., chief of cardiovascular and thoracic surgery at the St. Francis Heart Center, has performed the first-ever surgeries to repair or remodel interior heart structures, such as valves, using a unique bio-scaffold “patch.” Dr. Gerdisch is an independent physician, who chooses to practice at Franciscan St. Francis Health.
Known as the Extracellular Matrix, this remarkable bio-material is being used by Dr. Gerdisch to augment and repair the heart and its valves. Once implanted, the ECM harnesses the body’s innate ability to repair and repopulate damaged cardiovascular tissue, enabling patients to heal naturally. The body is allowed to heal with its own cells, avoiding any rejection.
It was first introduced in 2006 for repairing the pericardium, the protective “sac” that surrounds the heart, following open heart surgery. Dr. Gerdish and his team at the St. Francis Heart Center were the first to apply this bio-technology to reconstruct and repair the tissues of the human heart.
How Extracellular Matrix is made
Derived from the small intestine of a pig, the ECM is processed in a way that removes all cells. Only the complex structural matrix, made of collagen, remains. The ECM comes as an exceptionally strong, but very pliable and thin, sheet. To learn more, visit the CorMatrix Web site.
How Extracellular Matrix works in cardiovascular surgery
Once the ECM is surgically implanted within the heart, the patient’s own cells migrate and integrate, as part of the body’s innate wound-healing mechanisms to restore tissue at the site of implantation. During the tissue repair process, the matrix provides a frame-work for the patient’s own cells to organize. The cells produce new matrix, replacing the implanted patch. This leaves remodeled functional tissue instead of scar tissue or injured tissue.