Defective heart valve in 91-year-old replaced through tiny incision

February 22nd, 2009 - 5:26 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Feb 22 (IANS) When 91-year-old Irvin Lafferty was diagnosed with severe blockage of heart valve-hardening that is formally known as aortic valve stenosis open-heart surgery was out of the question.
He’d already survived quadruple bypass while in his 50s, and having lived almost a century, Lafferty wasn’t a good candidate for heart surgery for many reasons.

His local cardiologist referred him to surgical and interventional specialists at Chicago’s Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute of Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

On Jan 21, Lafferty became the first patient in Illinois to receive a prosthetic heart valve through transapical transcatheter aortic valve implantation, which combines catheterisation technology and traditional surgery, allowing doctors to implant a new heart valve in place of Lafferty’s diseased valve while his heart remained beating.

“Traditional open-heart surgery is a very safe and effective way to replace diseased heart valves, but for many patients bypass surgery is not a viable option,” said Patrick M. McCarthy, Northwestern Memorial’s chief of cardiothoracic surgery and co-director of its Bluhm Institute and a Heller-Sacks professor of surgery at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine.

“By utilising the percutaneous technique - meaning surgery is not required, we are able to greatly reduce risk for these patients. We see percutaneous valve repair as not only having a great impact upon how high-risk patients are treated, but in how heart valve disease is treated in the US and around the world,” said McCarthy, according to a Northwestern Memorial release.

Medical experts estimate every year nearly 200,000 people in the US need new heart valves. Yet over half of them do not receive them primarily due to frailty, one of the most common reasons for exclusion from traditional open-heart surgery.

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