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Abu Dhabi: Surgeons at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi have successfully performed a minimally invasive procedure to repair a leaky heart valve in a high-risk patient, collaborating with experts through live steaming technology, a statement from the hospital said on Thursday.

In March, the 67-year-old patient (name withheld) was brought to the clinic with pulmonary edema – an abnormal buildup of fluid in the lungs – caused by congestive heart failure.

After a complete evaluation of their medical history, the multi-disciplinary care team at the hospital concluded that a leaky mitral valve in the heart had to be repaired immediately using a small medical metal clip. The clip would prevent blood flowing backward into the heart, known as mitral valve regurgitation.

Dr Mahmoud Traina, an interventional cardiologist at the Heart and Vascular Institute at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, said, they decided to perform a minimally invasive transcatheter procedure because the patient was not a suitable candidate for standard open-heart surgery due to their comorbidities, including blocked arteries and lung disease.

“As global best practice, surgeons are always accompanied by a technical expert from the company that designs the mitral clips in the operating room. The expert provides technical support during the procedure and helps our prep staff understand any new iterations of the device. The expert’s assistance ensures that we achieve the optimum result for our patient,” he said.

On this occasion, Dr Traina said, the hospital was unable to host the expert in person due to visitor restrictions given the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We did not want to delay the treatment because of this as the patient’s health would continue to deteriorate without the life-saving procedure. So, we had to innovate with technology,” said Dr. Traina.

“Along with live streaming, we also had high-definition cameras directed to the procedural area for the technical expert to be able to see a detailed view of the operative field. The team was also relaying primary data, including the ultrasound videos and X-ray images, giving real-time ‘in-the-room’ visualisation of the surgery. This teleproctoring technique was seamless and the first of its kind globally for such a procedure. The patient is now home and their recovery is on track.” Said Dr Traina.

“Our positive experience with this patient opens up a host of opportunities for further collaborations to treat complex and critical cases and live demonstrations for trainee education,” he said.

The patient was hesitant and asked the doctors if they can postpone the surgery until the situation gets better, but they reassured that the team was fully prepared to do this minimally invasive procedure with the highest safety standards in place.

However, the patient said they are happy with the results of the operation and the heart is “doing very well.”

“The doctor has asked me to be careful at home and self-isolate as much as possible while I recover. I have been advised to wear a mask and gloves whenever I go out and take good care of my nutrition. The entire care team at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi has been very attentive and I’m so grateful for their support,” the patient lauded.