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Spotlight on Shipley: New Technology Helps Patients Survive Deadly Heart Infections

Heart Health
Author name: Lee Health


Spotlight on Shipley: New Tech

True to its mission, the cardiothoracic surgery team with Shipley Cardiothoracic Center continues to advance cardiac care through innovation, education, and research in heart and lung surgery.

In October, the center debuted the AngioVac System, a vacuum-like tool that can be used to remove harmful blood clots or infectious debris that can be found in the heart without the need for open chest surgery.

The surgical team at the Shipley Cardiothoracic Center at Lee Health has used the AngioVac device in patients who have developed life threatening growths in the heart that have resulted from infections related to intravenous drug use.

“This treatment can ultimately improve the effectiveness of antibiotic therapy, potentially shorten the duration of antibiotic therapy, and help prevent the need for open surgery and surgical valve replacement,” Dr. Michael DeFrain, a board-certified cardiothoracic surgeon with the Shipley Cardiothoracic Center.

In addition to its role in heart infections, the AngioVac device and its therapeutic potential is expected to have a big impact on treatment options available to patients who have other disorders as well. 

“In the rare instance that a patient needs mechanical removal of a blood clot that has released to the lungs (pulmonary embolus), the Angiovac system provides yet another potentially life-saving treatment option that can offer the hope of clot removal without open surgical exposure of the heart,” Dr. DeFrain says.

How the AngioVac System Works

  • A cardiac anesthesiologist slides a small ultrasound probe down the esophagus to visually monitor the heart
  • A tube with a funnel-shaped tip is inserted through a 1 centimeter incision into a vein in the neck or groin. The tube is guided through the blood vessels until it reaches the target in the heart.
  • Once engaged, the device acts like a vacuum cleaner, sucking out the clot or infective debris.
  • The Angiovac system then recirculates the patient’s filtered blood back into the venous system through a closed circuit.

The surgical team at Shipley Cardiothoracic Center at Health Park Hospital is one of the busiest heart surgery groups in Florida, performing over 1,600 heart and lung operations each year.

They are the first program in the state of Florida to perform TAVR, are national leaders in the surgical treatment of atrial fibrillation and minimally invasive heart valve surgery, and the Shipley Cardiothoracic Center team is among only six programs in the United States to receive the highest rating from The Society of Thoracic Surgeons for its surgical treatment and postoperative care of patients undergoing lobectomy for lung cancer.

Visit the Shipley Cardiothoracic Center website at for more information.

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