Heart surgeons are getting ready for the first heart valve replacement operation in Britain using key- hole technique.
The operation is scheduled for Tuesday and will be performed by Jan Kovac and a team of cardiologists. The surgery is termed as percutaneous aortic valve replacement. This technique, called the key- hole technique, was first performed in France.
The novelty of this surgery is that it avoids open-heart surgery. During the one-hour surgery the new valve will be introduced into a blood vessel running up from the groin to the heart through a catheter.
Dr Kovac, consultant cardiologist at Glenfield Hospital, said: 'In the past, patients had to endure open-heart surgery and would have been in hospital for at least a week after their operation. This new catheter treatment is much quicker and in most cases patients will be back home within a few days. This technique is the biggest invention in cardiology over the last 30 years.'
'Many patients in the future will be able to have heart valves replaced percutaneously [through the skin] in a catheter lab rather than having to endure open-heart surgery.'
The work of heart surgeons is made easy by coronary angioplasties (procedures to open the coronary arteries) and by the use of statins, which control heart disease.
Open-heart valve surgeries are second-commonest heart operations following bypasses.
The keyhole technique is used only on patients who are unsuitable for open-heart surgery as they are too old to survive it or have other diseases that increase the risk.