Dallas Hospital Pioneers New Heart Surgery Procedure
DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - One of the most common heart problems in the world – when the aortic heart valve starts to tighten and close over time, it can lead to a very slow and painful death. It is a treatable problem, but many people are unable to get the required surgery in time.
According to doctors, 50 percent of those who have this type of valve problem die within two years of developing the symptoms.
Open heart surgery was needed to fix the issue, but not anymore. A new type of medical procedure being performed in North Texas is giving all types of patients a second chance at life.
Jerry Hartley stoped playing golf about three years ago. He no longer had the energy and had experienced shortness of breath on a number of occasions. The 77-year-old passed out while mowing his lawn.
Hartley had triple-bypass surgery more than a decade ago. So, when his cardiologist said last year that his aortic valve was failing, Hartley got really scared. “I asked him if it would be necessary to break my chest to do the operation,” he recalled. “I just didn’t want to do that.”
But Hartley became a candidate for transcatheter aortic valve replacement. Rather than the traditional open heart surgery, a team of doctors make a small incision in the chest or groin area and insert a new valve, delivered to the heart on a catheter.
Medical City Dallas was the first of three hospitals to try this minimally-invasive procedure on older, frail and sick patients. “It’s revolutionary in a sense,” explained Dr. Todd Dewey with the hospital. “We can replace valves and make them function again without stopping the heart, without opening the chest, without using the heart lung machine.”
And doctors have now been given permission to perform this procedure on younger and healthier patients. “They too are suffering,” explained Dr. Bruce Bowers, “but they’re not as frail and debilitated coming into the operation as that first group of patients were.”
Hartley had the surgery two months ago, and he is feeling great. “I’ve got a lot of energy now and everything is good. It really is,” he said. “And it was good the day after I had the procedure. I mean, it was a different world.” He is now back out on the golf course.
Traditional open heart surgery typically includes months of recovery time. This new style of surgery only requires four or five days of recovery.
Two other hospitals in Houston are performing the procedure as well. The team in Dallas has helped about 300 patients. It is still considered experimental by the FDA.
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