Heart unit leads the way with £250k research project

Posted on in Research

Heart surgeons at The James Cook University Hospital have been awarded £250,000 to undertake a leading-edge research project.

Cardiothoracic surgeons

• Cardiothoracic surgeons Enoch Akowuah, Andrew Owens and Andrew Goodwin (left to right)

The exciting project will see the cardiothoracic team at the Middlesbrough hospital comparing keyhole surgery to conventional surgery for patients requiring aortic valve replacements – the second most common type of heart operation.

Funded by the National Institute of Healthcare Research, the MAVRIC trial will start in January and run for three years.

Cardiothoracic surgeon and chief investigator for the project Enoch Akowuah said: “This award is very prestigious for the heart unit and the trust. We are very excited to be the only hospital carrying out this research project in the UK.

“Up to 4,000 patients who require aortic valve replacement each year also require a postoperative blood transfusion. If we can show the keyhole approach reduces the need for blood transfusions and decreases the amount of time patients have to spend in hospital then this could potentially save the NHS up to £1.4million a year.

“This new approach also has the potential to reduce the risk of post-operative lung injury and organ dysfunction as well as reducing the pressure on blood transfusion services.”

The aortic valve enables blood to flow out of the heart and into the aorta (the main blood vessel in the body). With every heart beat the valve opens up so blood can flow out and then closes to stop any blood from flowing backwards into the heart.

Patients with narrow or leaking valves are often referred to the hospital after experiencing chest pain or shortness of breath and may require surgery to replace the faulty valve.
Cardiothoracic surgeon Andrew Owens said: “Patients who agree to take part in the trial will randomly be selected to receive either the new keyhole procedure or the more conventional treatment and we will study the clinical benefits.

“One of the key things we will need to monitor is the difference in blood loss and blood transfusion but we will also look at how quickly patients recover.”

In the UK nearly 10,000 patients a year have to undergo aortic valve surgery and with an increasingly ageing population more and more patients are expected to need this type of operation.*

Cardiothoracic surgeon Andrew Goodwin said: “This is the first time our heart unit has been awarded this amount of money to do this sort of project.

“This research will benefit future heart patients across the country and enable us to show which procedure is most cost-effective for the NHS.”