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A Pea-Sized Device Is Approved to Close Holes in Hearts of Tiny Infants

Abbott Laboratories’ Piccolo will be one of the smallest-ever heart devices

Abbott Laboratories' Piccolo heart device, used to close holes in the hearts of some premature infants.
Abbott Laboratories' Piccolo heart device, used to close holes in the hearts of some premature infants.Photographer: Abbott Laboratories

A pea-sized device used to seal tiny but potentially deadly holes in the hearts of premature infants has been approved by U.S. regulators, making it one of the smallest complex medical devices ever invented and cleared for sale.

Abbott Laboratories' Amplatzer Piccolo Occluder is one of the first treatments to become available for a common congenital defect that can become dangerous for premature infants. The device can be used in babies weighing as little as two pounds in cases where a hole in the heart used to deliver oxygen-rich blood in the womb doesn’t close after birth.