Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Take Heart from Pioneering New Op

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Take Heart from Pioneering New Op

Article excerpt

Byline: Craig Thompson Chief Reporter

HEART surgeons on Tyneside have become the first in Britain to perform an operation that could save thousands.

Medics at Newcastle's Freeman Hospital used a pioneering technique to repair damage to a patient's heart sustained during a coronary attack.

The procedure known as 'transcatheter ventricular enhancement' is not yet standard clinical practice, and the Regional Cardiothoracic Centre at the Newcastle hospital is the first, nationally, to carry it out.

It is hoped the operation, which repairs the heart without having to stop it beating, will help save thousands of patients across the country.

The first operation was performed on Ian Whitehead by heart specialists led by Professor Azfar Zaman and Professor Stephan Schueler - both based at the Freeman Hospital.

Professor Zaman said: "Following a major heart attack, the heart muscle heals by forming a scar.

"Over time this scar can stretch, which in turn stretches the normal heart muscle.

"After several years, this stretching of the heart by the scar tissue can lead to heart failure, which can become life-threatening.

"Until now, the only way of removing the scar tissue has been through open heart surgery, which many patients with heart failure are simply not well enough to tolerate. If we cannot treat them, the prognosis is not very good."

The transcatheter approach is a minimallyinvasive procedure which means it does not require the chest to be opened and is carried out by keyhole surgery.

Professor Zaman added: "This new procedure seeks to reduce the size of the scar tissue by literally 'tying it off .'.

"The surgeon makes a small cut in the chest to access the heart and puts in some stitches to pull healthy tissue over the scarring. At the same time, the interventional cardiologist enters the main vein in the neck using a special catheter - an extremely thin tube - to reach the heart. They meet in the middle.

"The cardiologist then picks up the stitching using a special device in the catheter, and pulls it like a purse string, effectively closing the scarred area. …

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