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Blackrock Clinic News First ‘Keyhole’ Repair of Heart Valves in Ireland

First ‘Keyhole’ Repair of Heart Valves in Ireland

23rd Aug 2011

A Cardiac Surgery Team at Blackrock Clinic performed the first minimally invasive mitral and tricuspid valve repair procedure in Ireland last week.  This procedure is a less invasive alternative to the traditional route via the breastbone (sternotomy) through a 20-25cm incision.

Instead, the endoscopic procedure uses a 5cm opening in the right chest, through which the heart is visualized with an endoscopic camera. The surgeon performs the minimally invasive endoscopic heart valve surgery with specifically designed long shafted instruments.

Benefits include reduced pain, reduced blood loss, reduced risk of infection, faster recovery, shorter hospital stay and less scarring.

Harriet Gould (67), the first patient to undergo this procedure last week, previously had her aortic valve replaced, followed by replacement of her aortic root. In her particular case, the chances of mortality from a traditional heart surgery procedure would have been very high at around 15%.  The endoscopic procedure offered an alternative with a risk of mortality assessed at 2-3%. The patient is doing well and it is hoped will return home within the week.

Recent research shows that the performance of mitral valve surgery through a minimally invasive (Port Access approach) leads to a reduction in ICU time, ventilator time, and hospital stay when compared to sternotomy.  No increase in morbidity was observed with Port Access compared to sternotomy.

Other research has demonstrated that mitral valve repair is a low-risk, durable surgical procedure. In a study undertaken by the Cleveland Clinic, the 15 year survival was 76%, superior to the age- and sex-matched population.  At ten years, freedom from mitral reoperation was 97%

“For valve surgery this will be a very attractive approach” said Mr Michael Tolan, the Cardio-Thoracic Surgeon who performed the endoscopic mitral and tricuspid valve repair.

“While it is still not a minor operation, the recovery time is much shorter and the impact on the patient overall is much less.  The procedure is complicated but is part of the trend of making surgery less invasive for patients” he added.

Mr. Tolan’s, anaesthetist Dr. Fionnuala Lyons and a team of 7 from Blackrock Clinic have been travelling to Belgium to train in this technique over the last 3 years.   They have been working with Dr. Hugo Vanerman MD, Founder and Head of the OLV Hospital’s Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery Unit. (Aalst, Belgium).  It was there that the procedure has been developed and Dr. Vanermanis the world leader in the field. Mr. Tolan performs an average of 70 mitral valve operations per year and is one of the most prolific in Europe.

For further media information please contact:

Catherine Logan: 086 811 4785

Email: catherine@hickeylogan.ie