Innovative surgery attracts national attention

Experts at Royal Brompton and Harefield hospitals care for patients with a wide range of complex cardiac conditions, both congenital (present at birth), inherited and acquired later in life.

Pioneering innovation in minimally-invasive surgery was highlighted in the national media this year.

Secondary school teacher Mike Adamson, 62, enjoyed an active lifestyle of cycling and jogging, but sought medical advice after he experienced breathlessness and a dull ache when out running.

Doctors discovered Mike’s aortic valve had stiffened due to a build-up of calcium. Not enough oxygenated blood was being pumped around the body – hence the shortness of breath. The valve would need replacing, or Mike would risk heart failure.

Traditional aortic valve surgery entails cutting through the chest with an incision of up to 30cm, and a recovery time of up to six months. Minimally-invasive techniques mean a quicker recovery time, because the 6cm incision goes between the ribs. With the new valve, no stitches are required and many patients are back to work within four weeks.

The operation takes 90 minutes to two hours, around an hour faster than the usual procedure.

Mr Bahrami told the Daily Mail: “At Harefield we now implant most valves, including mechanical ones, minimally invasively — usually we only need a 6cm incision. Because the new Edwards Intuity valve doesn’t need suturing, patients spend just 15 to 20 minutes on a heart-lung machine, so the risks are lower.”

Mike said: “Three weeks after the surgery I could walk 15km and by four weeks, I was able to go for my first gentle jog, which was amazing. Now just three months after the operation I can run 10km non-stop with no ill-effects — and I was back at work after six weeks.”

The theatre team at Harefield

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