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Research Highlights

Chemical found in medical devices impairs heart function

May 5, 2009

Artin Shoukas, PhDA BME researcher’s personal experience after cardiac surgery motivated a

search for the cause of some common side effects of heart surgery. Artin

Shoukas, Ph.D. (left), professor of biomedical engineering, physiology and

anesthesiology and critical care medicine, found that after his coronary

bypass operation, his sense of taste was negatively altered. Loss of taste

and and short-term memory loss, as well as swelling and fatigue are common

complaints of coronary bypass patients. Shoukas and his colleague Caitlin

Thompson-Torgerson, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow in anesthesiology and

critical care medicine, suspected the trigger for these side effects might

be a chemical compound of some kind. They found that a compound called cyclohexanone commonly used in the production of such medical plastic devices as intravenous (IV) bags and catheters can impair heart function in rats.

Rats given a solution containing cyclohexanone had weaker, slower heart

contractions. Also, the reflex that helps control and maintain blood

pressure is much less sensitive after cyclohexanone exposure. Finally, the

team observed increased fluid retention and swelling in the rats after

cyclohexanone injections. The next step is figuring out how these side

effects–decreased heart function and swelling–occur, and to what degree cyclohexanone is involved.

To read the entire Johns Hopkins Medicine news release:

View a video of a seminar Dr. Shoukas presented on the topic.