New heart valve surgery called rev­o­lu­tion­ary

The Daily Courier - - CANADA - By The Cana­dian Press

VANCOUVER — A Vancouver car­di­ol­o­gist has pre­sented de­tails of a rev­o­lu­tion­ary heart valve surgery to thou­sands of doc­tors from around the world and says the min­i­mally in­va­sive pro­ce­dure will “blow peo­ple’s minds.”

Dr. David Wood led a study in­volv­ing 411 pa­tients who un­der­went an op­er­a­tion called 3M tran­scatheter aor­tic valve re­place­ment for treat­ing aor­tic heart valve dis­ease, at 13 cen­tres across North Amer­ica, 11 of them in Canada.

“It’s go­ing to change, we think, not just North Amer­i­can, but global prac­tice,” Wood said Mon­day be­fore pre­sent­ing the study at the an­nual Tran­scatheter Car­dio­vas­cu­lar Ther­a­peu­tics con­fer­ence in Den­ver, where 15,000 at­ten­dees had en­rolled.

In­stead of in­va­sive open heart surgery, which re­quires gen­eral anes­thetic, slic­ing of the ster­num, or breast­bone, and long hospi­tal stays and re­cov­ery time, pa­tients were awake for the 45-minute pro­ce­dure and walk­ing within a few hours. Eighty per of them went home the next day.

“You had no breath­ing tube, no catheter in your blad­der, you could re­turn to work the next day, you could be driv­ing the next day. Th­ese are things that I think the av­er­age per­son can’t be­lieve are fea­si­ble in 2017,” said Wood, who prac­tises at Vancouver Gen­eral Hospi­tal and St. Paul’s Hospi­tal in the same city.

The aor­tic valve is the most im­por­tant of four heart valves and leads from the heart to the body, sup­ply­ing blood to the head, lungs and mus­cles. It wears out and nar­rows with age.

The me­dian age of pa­tients in the study was 84, and their symp­toms in­clude chest pain and short­ness of breath.

“Once you start get­ting symp­toms, 50 per cent of peo­ple are go­ing to be dead within a year so it’s ab­so­lutely im­per­a­tive that you fix that valve,” Wood said.

The new in­no­va­tion builds on a tech­nique pi­o­neered by Wood’s col­league Dr. John Webb in 2005, which still re­quired gen­eral anes­thetic and a week­long hospi­tal stay.

Max Mor­ton, 79, was the first per­son to have the pro­ce­dure as an emer­gency-room pa­tient at Vancouver Gen­eral Hospi­tal. He’d al­ready had open heart surgery a decade ear­lier.

“Within 24 hours I thought, well, this is nice. It was such an amaz­ing ex­pe­ri­ence be­ing awake for the whole thing,” he said from his home in Rich­mond, B.C., adding he went fish­ing five days later.

“The only rea­son Max is alive is be­cause we’d been do­ing the study and we were able to use that tech­nique for Max. That’s why he’s such an amaz­ing story. No one had ever done it be­fore like that.”

The Cana­dian Press

Max Mor­ton, 81, sits with his dog Bar­ney, at his home in Rich­mond. Mor­ton is one of 411 pa­tients who had tran­scatheter aor­tic valve re­place­ment surgery where the dam­aged aor­tic valve is re­placed with­out re­mov­ing the old one, an al­ter­na­tive to the more in­va­sive open-heart surgery.

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