Heart operation
A patient at Burjeel Hospital in Abu Dhabi underwent a complex surgery to fix his heart without opening up his chest. Image Credit: Pexels

Abu Dhabi: In a rare surgical procedure in the capital, a patient’s leaky heart valve has been repaired without opening up his chest.

The 28-year-old patient from Pakistan, Zain Raza, has been doing well since the surgery at Burjeel Hospital Abu Dhabi and has been able to continue his work as a waiter, Dr Georgie Thomas, his surgeon, told Gulf News.

“The patient had faced damage to his heart valves as a youth, and had had the mitral valve replaced with a metallic prosthetic valve. He had been living with it for 14 years, and had had his case routinely followed,” Dr Thomas, interventional cardiologist at the hospital, told Gulf News.

Raza, however, developed shortness of breath and palpitations, and during a routine check, doctors found another leak.

“We found that his prosthetic valve had come away from its sutures, creating a leak that allowed blood to flow backward into his heart chamber. Without treatment, the patient’s condition would have gotten progressively worse as the backflow of blood would have put added strain on his heart muscles,” the doctor explained.

However, repeat heart surgery also posed its own complications.

“I did not want to open [Raza] up because the presence of scar tissue in the case of repeat heart surgery always makes the procedure difficult. The heart is a vital organ, and with scar tissue, it is difficult for a surgeon to see what we are cutting. The recovery time is also long. So we decided to go in using the catheter-based approach,” the surgeon said.

The position and dimensions of the leak were evaluated with three-dimensional echocardiography. The surgical team then deployed a metallic vascular plug, which expanded at the site to close up the leak. The procedure took about an hour and a half, and Raza was discharged a day later.

Dr Thomas added that valve leaks are very rarely repaired using a catheter-based approach, “with only four to five having been performed across the UAE till date”.