Stanford University, 2011 - $19,000

The vast majority of hospitalizations related to heart failure in the US are due to symptoms of volume overload, which occurs when cardiac pumping function declines and excess fluid builds up in the body. Patients become bloated due to the fluid accumulation, and in the lungs, where interstitial space is limited, fluid overflows into the airways and causes shortness of breath common to heart patients.

Volume overload is currently managed by two treatments: medications and dialysis. Medications remove fluid from the body by increasing kidney function and increasing urine output, but this reversal can take hours to days and is often incomplete. Dialysis mechanically filters fluid from blood in patients with poor kidney function, but is complex and expensive.

LymphAxis is developing a novel catheter system to drain excess fluid directly from the thoracic duct. Instead of manipulating kidney function to increase urine output, the team’s device accesses the interstitial fluid compartment (in the patient’s neck) directly. The device’s double-armed catheter is advanced through the central venous system to the thoracic duct. The catheter tip seals against the duct to draw fluid directly from the lymphatic system and into a vacuum container outside the body.