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Posted on: Tuesday 21 May, 2019 12:20 pm
Burjeel Hospital gives patient new lease on life by fixing rare heart valve leak
Dr. Georgie with the patient
Dr. Georgie with the patient

In another first for the UAE, Burjeel Hospital, Abu Dhabi’s premier healthcare facility, conducted a rare and complex heart procedure to save the life of a patient suffering from complications.

The 28-year-old male patient had a history of heart problems that was affecting the quality of his life. At only 16 years of age, he had undergone open heart surgery for a severely leaking heart valve. In order to save his life, the valve was replaced with a metallic valve. Since then, he has been on a continuous follow up schedule to ensure that the valve was operating properly.

During one such routine check-up, it was discovered that the vale had developed a leak. When the patient came to Burjeel Hospital, he was complaining of shortness of breath and palpitations. Doctors realised that the leak had become severe, and had to be controlled urgently.

Prosthetic valve leaks, like the one in this case, are not very common. Till recently, the only way to treat paravalvular leak was to redo surgery and re-suturing. They are usually caused by a breakage of sutures. And this is why the repair of such ‘paravalvular leaks’ requires a high degree of technical expertise. Because of the complicated nature of the procedure, and the importance of the organ, there is no margin for error.

Dr Georgie Thomas, interventional cardiologist at Burjeel Hospital, challenged himself to the task. He specialises in complex heart interventions, and has a special interest in helping patients whose only other option is open heart surgery. Over the years, he has helped many patients with complicated issues.

In this case, Dr Georgie decided to plug the leakage in the valve using a catheter-based approach. The leak was evaluated with 3D Trans-esophageal echocardiography, and the position and dimensions of the defect were characterised. With the cardiac surgical team standing by as back up, a percutaneous interventional closure of the paravalvular leak was performed.

In this complex procedure, the placement of the wires was guided by expert 3D echocardiographic guidance by Dr Sivan Pillay Azhagappan, Specialist - Anaesthesia. The procedure took about 90 minutes, and the patient was discharged the next day.

The greater the risk, the greater the challenge, they say. In this case, the team of doctors embarked on a mission to help the patient, and completed it successfully. This was possible thanks to the high level of expertise and experience of the team. The smallest mistake could have been disastrous, and the doctors performed the procedure with care and precision. The success of the procedure can be attributed to the cohesiveness and inter-dependence of the cardiac team, in this case, most notably between Dr Georgie Thomas, Specialist – Cardiology, Dr Sivan Pillay Azhagappan, Specialist Anaesthesia, and Dr C. G. Venkitachalam, Consultant and Head of Cardiology Department at Burjeel Hospital.

This was the first time this procedure was done in Abu Dhabi in a private hospital, marking one more among many milestones for Burjeel Hospital.


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