BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
The present invention is generally directed to a constriction device that constricts body tissue. The present invention is more particularly directed to a constriction device that includes reinforced suture holes to permit a suture to maintain the constriction device from being dislodged from the constricted body tissue while protecting the integrity of the constriction device.
Constriction devices have been contemplated for constricting body tissue. Such devices have been considered for use, for example, in tissue resection procedures and in treating pulmonary disease.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) has become a major cause of morbidity and mortality in the United States over the last three decades. COPD is characterized by the presence of airflow obstruction due to chronic bronchitis or emphysema. The airflow obstruction in COPD is due largely to structural abnormalities in the smaller airways. Important causes are inflammation, fibrosis, goblet cell metaplasia, and smooth muscle hypertrophy in terminal bronchioles.
The incidence, prevalence, and health-related costs of COPD are on the rise. Mortality due to COPD is also on the rise. In 1991 COPD was the fourth leading cause of death in the United States and had increased 33% since 1979.
COPD affects the patient's whole life. It has three main symptoms: cough; breathlessness; and wheeze. At first, breathlessness may be noticed when running for a bus, digging in the garden, or walking up hill. Later, it may be noticed when simply walking in the kitchen. Over time, it may occur with less and less effort until it is present all of the time.
COPD is a progressive disease and currently has no cure. Current treatments for COPD include the prevention of further respiratory damage, pharmacotherapy, and surgery. Each is discussed below.
The prevention of further respiratory damage entails the adoption of a healthy lifestyle. Smoking cessation is believed to be the single most important therapeutic intervention. However, regular exercise and weight control are also important. Patients whose symptoms restrict their daily activities or who otherwise have an impaired quality of life may require a pulmonary rehabilitation program including ventilatory muscle training and breathing retraining. Long-term oxygen therapy may also become necessary.
Pharmacotherapy may include bronchodilator therapy to open up the airways as much as possible or inhaled β-agonists. For those patients who respond poorly to the foregoing or who have persistent symptoms, Ipratropium bromide may be indicated. Further, courses of steroids, such as corticosteroids, may be required. Lastly, antibiotics may be required to prevent infections and influenza and pheumococcal vaccines may be routinely administered. Unfortunately, there is no evidence that early, regular use of pharmacotherapy will alter the progression of COPD.
Lung transplantation is also an option. Today, COPD is the most common diagnosis for which lung transplantation is considered. Unfortunately, this consideration is given for only those with advanced COPD. Given the limited availability of donor organs, lung transplant is far from being available to all patients.
About 40 years ago, it was first postulated that the tethering force that tends to keep the intrathoracic airways open was lost in emphysema and that by surgically removing the most affected parts of the lungs, the force could be partially restored. Although the surgery was deemed promising, the procedure was abandoned.
The lung volume reduction surgery (LVRS) was later revived. In the early 1990's, hundreds of patients underwent the procedure. However, the procedure has fallen out of favor due to the fact that Medicare stopped remitting for LVRS. Unfortunately, data is relatively scarce and many factors conspire to make what data exists difficult to interpret. The procedure is currently under review in a controlled clinical trial. However, what data does exist tends to indicate that patients benefited from the procedure in terms of an increase in forced expiratory volume, a decrease in total lung capacity, and a significant improvement in lung function, dyspnea, and quality of life.
Improvements in pulmonary function after LVRS have been attributed to at least four possible mechanisms. These include enhanced elastic recoil, correction of ventilation/perfusion mismatch, improved efficiency of respiratory musculature, and improved right ventricular filling.
The improvements in pulmonary function resulting from LVRS cannot be ignored. However, the surgery is very invasive and fraught with complications. Among the complications is the potential for lung air leaks. Lung tissue is very thin, and fragile hence difficult to suture together. After a lung portion is sectioned and removed, the remaining lung is most often restructured with suture staples. In about thirty percent (30%) of the cases, the difficulty with suturing lung tissue results in air leaks. Treatment for such air leaks depends upon their severity and often, in the most serious cases, requires further open chest surgery.
Air leaks in lungs can be caused by other causes. With increasing age, a patient may develop a weakened section of lung which may then rupture due to an extreme pressure differential, such as may result from simply a hard sneeze. AIDS patients can suffer from air leaks in their lungs. Air leaks in lungs can further be caused by a puncture from a broken rib or a stab wound.
The invention disclosed and claimed in copending U.S. application Ser. No. 09/534,244, incorporated herein by reference, provides an improved therapy for treating COPD and air leaks in lungs. The therapy includes a constriction device which, when deployed on a lung, suppresses air leaks in the lung tissue without requiring any suturing of the effected lung tissue. Still further, by constricting a large enough portion of a lung with the device, lung volume reduction with the concomitant improved pulmonary function may be obtained without the need for any suturing of lung tissue at all.
The lung constriction device includes a jacket or sheath of flexible material configured to cover at least a portion of a lung. The jacket has a pair of opened ends to permit the lung portion to be drawn into the jacket. The jacket is dimensioned to constrict the lung portion after the lung portion is drawn therein. The lung constriction device is preferably formed of expandable, such as elastic, material for receiving the lung tissue while the device is in an expanded or enlarged condition, and then contractible about the lung portion upon release of the expanded condition for constricting the lung tissue.
An important aspect of the device and method disclosed in U.S. application Ser. No. 09/534,244 is the ability to sever the constricting device intermediate its ends. This allows a significant portion of the constricted lung tissue to be removed altogether while permitting a portion of the constricting device to remain in the body for continued suppression of air leaks and maintenance of the remaining lung tissue integrity.
Devices and methods similar to those disclosed in U.S. application Ser. No. 09/534,244 may be employed to advantage in other and different procedures such as in general resection procedures and for body tissue other than lung tissue. Resection procedures are commonly performed for such body tissue as, for example, atrial appendage tissue, ovarian tissue, gall bladder tissue, pancreatic tissue, appendix tissue and spleen tissue. Resection procedures may be required to treat cancer, organ damage, or organ disease, for example.
U.S. application Ser. No. 09/534,244 also discloses and claims various methods and apparatus for deploying the constricting device on body tissue such as lung tissue. One apparatus and method contemplates mechanically expanding the device in a transverse dimension while physically pulling the tissue to be constricted into the device.
Another method contemplates mounting the device over a vacuum chamber and pulling the tissue into the vacuum chamber by engaging the tissue with an opened end of the chamber and then drawing a vacuum in the chamber. This draws the tissue into the chamber. Then, the chamber is withdrawn from the device, leaving the tissue constricted in the device.
A further method contemplates inserting the device into a vacuum chamber and sealing the opened end of the chamber to the device. The opened end of the chamber and the tissue are then brought into sealing engagement. A vacuum is next pulled in the chamber and the device to pull the tissue into the device and chamber. Once the tissue is within the device, the chamber is removed from over the device leaving the tissue constricted in the device.
Although various methods and apparatus have been conceived for effectively deploying constriction devices on body tissue, the constriction devices, over time, may become dislodged due to the nature of the soft tissue on which they are deployed. More specifically, soft body tissue has a tendency to expand at the proximal end of the device causing longitudinal slippage of the device on the body tissue. This may eventually lead to the device slipping totally free from the tissue.
To meet the needs for fixation, U.S. application Ser. No. 09/902,821, filed Jul. 10, 2001, and incorporated herein by reference, discloses and claims a constriction device having positive fixation structure for maintaining the constriction device deployed on the body tissue.
One disclosed device includes a plurality of fixation elements on the inner surface of the sleeve that grasp the body tissue upon release of the sleeve from the expanded condition. More particularly, the fixation elements are adjacent to one of the opposed openings and arranged in a side-by-side relation to grasp the body tissue between adjacent fixation elements when the sleeve is released from the expanded condition. The fixation elements may be integral to the longitudinal-side wall or adhered to the inner surface of the sleeve. Still further, the inner surfaces of the fixation elements may have roughened surfaces to further assist in grasping the constricted body tissue.
While the fixation structures disclosed and claimed in the aforementioned U.S. application Ser. No. 09/902,821 are believed to be sufficient alone for maintaining the constriction device on the constricted body tissue, it is contemplated herein that other forms of fixation may be further employed alone or in combination with the above described fixation structures for maintaining the constriction device on the constricted body tissue. One additional form of fixation widely practiced in the medical field is suturing.
While suturing would appear to be an option, simply suturing the constriction device to the constricted body tissue would pose a number of problems. Such problems would arise because the material from which the constriction device is formed is relatively thin elastic material. The suturing of such material could easily cause tearing of the device by the suture. Moreover, the very act of puncturing the device material with a suture needle could readily cause tearing of the device material. Hence, there is a need in the art for a constriction device configured to permit the suturing of the device to constricted body tissue which is structured to protect against the tearing of the device material by either the suture or a suture needle. The present invention addresses that need. the device material by either the suture or a suture needle. The present invention addresses that need.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
The present invention provides a constriction device that constricts body tissue, and which is configured to be sutured to constricted body tissue while protecting the integrity of the device. The device includes an elongated sleeve including at least one opened end and being formed from elastic material to receive, when in an expanded condition, body tissue to be constricted and to constrict the body tissue when released from the expanded condition. The device further includes at least one suture hole that receives a suture to maintain the sleeve on the body tissue and a reinforcement structure about the at least one suture hole.
The reinforcement structure may be an increased thickness of the sleeve about the at least one suture hole. The sleeve may include a plurality of suture holes and the increased thickness may be about each of the suture holes.
Preferably, the suture holes are distributed about the sleeve near to the at least one opened end.
The increased thickness of the sleeve may be formed as a band circumscribing the sleeve with the sutures holes extending through the band. The increased thickness may further have a tapered cross-section for guiding a suture needle into the suture holes. The increased thickness may extend from the inner surface of the sleeve or from the outer surface of the sleeve.
The reinforcement structure may alternatively be a layer of elastic material having a higher tear strength than the elastic material of the sleeve and which is disposed about each of the suture holes. The layer of elastic material may be a continuous band about the sleeve.
In accordance with further aspects, the present invention further provides a constriction device that constricts body tissue. The device includes a generally cylindrical elastic sleeve including opposed opened ends and having a wall of substantially uniform thickness that receives body tissue therein to constrict the body tissue and at least one suture hole to receive a suture to maintain the sleeve on tissue constricted by the sleeve. The sleeve wall has an increased thickness, greater than the substantially uniform thickness, about the at least one suture hole.
The present invention still further provides a constriction device that constricts body tissue, and including sleeve means formed of elastic material including at least one opened end for constricting body tissue received therein, suture hole means for receiving a suture to maintain the sleeve means on the body tissue, and suture hole reinforcing means about the suture hole means for reinforcing the suture hole means.