Advanced heart valve procedure helps 100th patient

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More than 100 patients have benefitted from an advanced heart valve replacement procedure at The James Cook University Hospital.

Andrew Goodwin and Enoch Akowuah

South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust was one of the first in the UK to offer the minimally invasive procedure for replacing the aortic valve which is done using much smaller incisions than more traditional methods.

This means patients recover much faster, spend less time in hospital and can be back to work in just six weeks.

“Our results show nine out of ten patients have no limitations and normal mobility back within six weeks,” said cardiothoracic surgeon Enoch Akowuah, who travelled to Italy to learn the new technique together with fellow surgeon Andrew Goodwin.

“Our latest patient survey shows a 100% satisfaction rate and we now have surgeons from across the country coming here to learn how to do it.”

Blood flows out of the heart and into the aorta through the aortic valve which opens up so blood can flow out and then closes to stop any blood from flowing backwards.

Minimally invasive aortic valve replacement can be used to treat patients with narrow or leaking valves who are often referred to the hospital after experiencing chest pain or shortness of breath.

Patients are left with minimal scarring as the procedure is performed through small incisions using a technique similar to keyhole surgery. Previously surgeons had to split open the whole breast bone to gain access to the valve and the resulting wound would take several months to heal.

“We see patients recover much quicker and we are reducing the length of time they have to stay in hospital,” added Mr Akowuah. “It also reduces bleeding so we do not have to transfuse as much blood.”