Scripps Physicians are First on West Coast to Use World's Smallest Heart Pump

Tiny pump circulates four liters of blood per minute

Oct 18, 2012, 09:00 ET from Scripps Health

LA JOLLA, Calif., Oct. 18, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- It was a banner day for Gilbert Manderscheid. The 70-year-old Las Vegas resident not only survived a risky heart procedure, but he also was the first person on the West Coast to be treated with the newest version of the world's smallest heart pump.


The Impella heart pump was used for the first time in the United States in three locations on Sept. 26, including Scripps Green Hospital. The device, which received clearance last month from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), was approved to maintain blood flow during surgery.

"We expect this to be a significant tool in helping more patients. High-risk patients with blocked arteries are now able to undergo arterial repair without major surgery," said Dr. Paul Teirstein, who led the Scripps heart care team. "The new Impella CP makes a procedure that could be very risky for a patient with a weakened heart, such as Gilbert, less risky to undergo."

For the past two years, Manderscheid had been experiencing unexplainable jaw and back pain. His cardiologist in Las Vegas, Dr. Carlos Fonte, ran an angiogram on Manderscheid's heart and discovered a 90 percent blockage in the top of the heart – a highly unusual condition that placed the grandfather of six in the high-risk category. 

"Because my condition was so unusual and such high-risk, Dr. Fonte referred me to Scripps. He told me 'if anyone could fix this for you, Dr. Teirstein can,'" said Manderscheid. "Thankfully, the procedure was a success and I feel that the pump assisted Dr. Teirstein in making it a success."

The Impella pump is inserted via catheter through a tiny incision in the patient's femoral artery and is then moved into position so that it will pump large quantities of blood through the body, essentially taking over the pumping action of the patient's heart.

"There are many different type of ventricular assist devices on the market now, but these are all so large that they require surgery to be implanted," said Teirstein. "The Impella CP device is so tiny that it does not need invasive surgery to be inserted into the patient."

Designed to pump up to four liters of blood per minute through a patient's circulatory system, the catheter-delivered device allows the heart to rest while repairs are made to damaged arteries. Previous versions of the heart pump could provide only about 2.5 liters of blood-flow per minute.

"Increasing the flow to four liters is a major gain for patients with stressed or weakened circulations systems who require arterial repair," said Teirstein. "It is exciting to have this new compact tool available to us that has the ability to circulate approximately 80 percent of what a healthy heart can pump each minute."

This adoption of this new technology is an extension of Scripps' leadership in heart care and research. Construction is currently under way on the $456 million Prebys Cardiovascular Institute, a center for innovation that will bring together top researchers, physicians and staff. The institute will incorporate leading-edge wireless technologies and individualized medicine for the best in patient care when it opens in 2015. Annually, more than 55,000 patients receive their cardiovascular care from Scripps, making it San Diego County's largest heart care provider. Scripps is the region's only cardiovascular program consistently recognized by U.S. News & World Report as one of the best in the country.


Founded in 1924 by philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps, Scripps Health is a $2.5 billion nonprofit integrated health system based in San Diego, Calif. Scripps treats a half-million patients annually through the dedication of 2,600 affiliated physicians and 13,500 employees among its five acute-care hospital campuses, home health care services, and an ambulatory care network of physician offices and 23 outpatient centers and clinics.

Recognized as a leader in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of disease, Scripps is also at the forefront of clinical research, genomic medicine, wireless health care and graduate medical education. With three highly respected graduate medical education programs, Scripps is a longstanding member of the Association of American Medical Colleges. Scripps has been consistently recognized by Fortune, Working Mother magazine and AARP as one of the best places in the nation to work. More information can be found at

SOURCE Scripps Health