News Center

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

St. Francis surgeon uses tissue regeneration technology to rebuild patients’ heart structures

INDIANAPOLIS – A surgeon at the St. Francis Heart Center is using a revolutionary technology that allows patients to rebuild their own cardiovascular tissue.
Marc Gerdisch, M.D., is using the CorMatrix Extracellular Matrix (ECM)™ to modify and repair cardiac structures, allowing heart tissue to re-grow inside the beating hearts of heart surgery patients. The CorMatrix ECM is a unique biomaterial that harnesses the body’s innate ability to repair damaged heart tissue. Over time, it is replaced by the patients’ own tissue.

"The use of this biomaterial is a
major advancement in cardiac surgery and allows us to provide our patients with restoration of normal anatomic structures. It opens the door to a new level of cardiac tissue reconstruction," said Gerdisch, director of cardiothoracic surgery at the St. Francis Heart Center and a partner at Cardiac Surgery Associates.

In August 2007, Gerdisch, who specializes in complex heart valve surgery, became the first in the world to apply this technology inside the heart, repairing a congenital defect.

"Similar uses of the ECM followed, at our and other institutions," reported Gerdisch, who is co-director of the
St. Francis Midwest Heart Valve Center. "Then, in March 2008, we performed the first enlargement of the path blood follows as it exits the heart using the CorMatrix ECM, in lieu of a prosthetic device, for a patient undergoing valve surgery.

The first mitral valve reconstruction using CorMatrix occurred at St Francis Heart Center as well, in October of 2008. Large defects had been created in a patient’s valve by infection. The valve was restored to normal function using CorMatrix patches, avoiding a valve replacement.
"We have been able to make similar repairs for other patients since," added Gerdisch.

The CorMatrix ECM is derived from porcine small intestines and is processed in a way that removes all cells, leaving the complex structural matrix intact. Once surgically implanted, it serves as a scaffold, allowing the patient’s cells to infiltrate and ultimately replace the ECM scaffold.

While the patient continues to heal, the matrix gradually is replaced as the body reinforces and remodels the tissue. In the past, tissue replacement has been limited by options for implantation.

Animal tissue implants are subject to calcium deposition and hardening, due to the body’s ability to recognize them as foreign. Synthetic material lacks the performance characteristics of tissue and causes an inflammatory response. ECM, however, leads to growth of functional tissue where scarring would normally be expected.

More information about how the ECM is being used at St. Francis Hospital & Health Centers is at

About St. Francis Heart Center
Referring physicians wanting to learn more about heart valve surgery and Dr. Marc Gerdisch’s work with ECM can call toll-free at 1-866-237-0565.
The St. Francis Heart Center is dedicated to providing our patients with the region's most comprehensive heart and vascular services. The commitment of our physicians to the prevention and cure of heart disease has led to innovative care, better outcomes and improved quality of life for patients. St. Francis created the Emergency Heart Attack Response Team protocol, which has revolutionized heart attack treatment in the United States and abroad. St. Francis has the only 24/7 comprehensive heart center in South Central Indiana, providing everything from angioplasty to heart valve repair. For more information, go to

About St. Francis Hospital & Health Centers
St. Francis Hospital & Health Centers has three main hospitals in Indianapolis, Beech Grove and Mooresville and operates a medical office building in Plainfield. St. Francis Hospital is part of a network of 13 growing hospital campuses in Indiana and Illinois owned and operated by the Mishawaka-based Sisters of St. Francis Health Services Inc., one of the largest health-care systems in Indiana. For more information, go to

About CorMatrix® ECM Technology™
CorMatrix Cardiovascular holds an exclusive license from Purdue University to research, develop, manufacture and market naturally occurring ECM™ products for cardiovascular applications. The company currently has U.S. clearance and European approval with a CE Mark for its ECM Technology as an implant for pericardial closure, and clearance in the U.S. for use in cardiac tissue repair. For more information, visit

Media Contacts:
Joe Stuteville-St. Francis 317-782-7986 (office)
Becky Soja-CorMatrix Cardiovascular 415-946-1080 (office)