What is Jarvik 7?

You may have heard of heart transplants, where organs of diseased people are transplanted into living recipients. In many such cases there is a long list of recipients and a very short list of donors. But did you know that instead of waiting for a heart donor, there is another option for heart patients? The alternative is called the ‘Total Artificial Heart’ or TAH. The TAH is a form of mechanical circulatory support in which the patient is supported by a pneumatically powered, artificial heart.

The first TAH to be implanted was the Jarvik 7 in 1982. The Jarvik 7 was an artificial heart made of plastic and metal, named after its designer Robert Jarvik. It was the first TAH which was designed to be implanted as a permanent replacement after the natural heart was removed.

In probably one of the most dramatic surgical procedures that was ever imagined, surgeons at the University of Utah implanted the Jarvik 7 heart into Barney Clark, a 62-year-old dentist, in 1982.

Clark, who was in the final stages of heart failure, agreed to the procedure as an experiment to help medicine and did not expect to survive more than a few days. He however, went on to live for 112 days after the implantation.

With the relative success of the first operation, by the late 1980s, surgeons at 16 centers were using the Jarvik 7 as a bridge to heart transplantation. Today, though the original Jarvik 7 heart is no longer in use, this invention was truly a remarkable feat in the history of medical science.

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What is MRI and how is it useful?

Magnetic Resonance Imaging, or MRI, is a valuable clinical and research tool. It gives a visual representation of organs and structures in the body.

Magnetic resonance imaging was made possible when Nikola Tesla first discovered the rotating magnetic field in 1882. Nearly one hundred years later in 1977, an American physician, Raymond Vahan Damadian invented the first MRI scanning machine. He was the first to perform a full body scan on a human being with a resultant diagnosis of cancer.

An MRI scanner consists of a long tube that the patient is inserted into. Here the patient is subjected to a very strong magnetic field and radio waves are applied in different directions. This causes atoms in the patient’s body to emit special signals which are detected by the MRI scanner and sent to a computer. Based on the data the computer creates an image of the part of the body to be scanned.

Although it is more expensive than other procedures, a major advantage of MRI is that dangerous X-ray radiation can be avoided. MRI’s are used to study the brain, spinal cord, bones, joints and internal organs. It is an extremely accurate diagnostic method and an invaluable tool for disease detection.

The development of MRI revolutionized the medical world. Since its discovery, MRI scans not only assist in medical procedures but also aid in research.

Picture Credit : Google