Development of a Surgical Instrument for Minimally Invasive Beating Heart Patent Foramen Ovale

Pierre DupontPierre Dupont, PhD
Boston University – Engineering
Professor – BME
Professor – Aerospace & Mech. Eng


Pedro del NidoPedro del Nido , MD
Children’s Hospital Boston –
Cardiovascular Surgery
Harvard Medical School
Professor – Surgery

While the demand for heart surgery is increasing, open heart procedures that require stopping the heart are declining due to inherent clinical risks, and the field requires new less-invasive approaches.

OBJECTIVE: To develop a surgical instrument that enables minimally invasive surgery on beating hearts while providing the efficacy of open heart surgery. The technology will be refined and validated in the context of a specific and significant clinical need: Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO) closure.

The foramen ovale is an opening between the two atria of the heart that allows blood to circulate in utero and which should close after birth, but fails to do so completely in about 25% of the population. In some individuals, clots or particles in the blood can pass through the PFO to the left atrium leading to strokes or heart attacks. The team proposes to create PFO closure devices and a minimally invasive, joystick-controlled robotic instrument to accurately deliver them within a beating heart. Successful completion of this research will provide a safer and less invasive treatment for this prevalent condition and also establish an enabling technology platform for many other intracardiac procedures currently performed by open heart surgery.


Robotics, Dynamics and Control Research Group (website)

‘Heart’ Work Earns Professor Pierre Dupont NIH Grant (article, 2007)