The U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized use of the Flourish Pediatric Esophageal Atresia Anastomosis, a first-of-its-kind medical device to treat infants up to one year old for a birth defect that causes a gap in their esophagus, called esophageal atresia.
The device uses magnets to pull the upper and lower esophagus together, closing the gap and allowing food to enter the stomach. It is not for use in infants who also have a tracheoesophageal fistula, an abnormal connection between the esophagus and the windpipe (trachea).
During the procedure to insert the Flourish device, doctors insert two catheters, one through the mouth and one through the stomach. The magnetic ends of the two catheters attract each other, and this attraction pulls the two ends of the esophagus together over several days, closing the gap and forming a connection. Once the catheters are removed, the infant can begin to feed by mouth.
The FDA reviewed data for the Flourish device through the humanitarian device exemption (HDE) process. A Humanitarian Use Device (HUD) is a device that is intended to benefit patients by treating or diagnosing a disease or condition that affects not more than 8,000 individuals in the U.S. per year.