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New heart procedure eases pain for elderly patients

27 November

Three Townsville Hospital patients have been the first outside of the south-east corner to have a minimally invasive aortic valve replacement to treat high-risk aortic stenosis, a condition where the aortic valve, a one-way door leading out of the heart narrows, obstructing blood flow to the rest of the body.

Townsville Hospital director cardiothoracic surgery Dr Sumit Yadav said the procedure - the transcatheter valve implantation (TAVI) - implanted an artificial valve into the heart using key-hole surgery through a small incision in the groin to open the valve and maintain blood flow.

Eighty-year-old Leslie Miller who had the TAVI procedure last week said that after two previous open-heart surgeries that he could not have another.

“Not only was I too high-risk to have another open-heart procedure, I didn’t want to undergo another surgery of that scale,” he said.

“I had to travel to Brisbane for initial consultations for TAVI but when Dr Sumit Yadav told me that I could have my surgery here in Townsville using a simple keyhole method I was greatly relieved.

“The cardiology and cardiothoracic teams are very capable people and I am feeling on the mend and enjoying my time not suffering symptoms of aortic stenosis such as constant shortness of breath.”

Dr Sumit Yadav said the hospital performed approximately 60-70 aortic valve replacements a year, a large percentage of which were done safely with open-heart surgery.

“The TAVI offers an option for a very unique cohort of patients whose heart condition is more complex and who have usually have already had a major open-heart procedure, making another major surgery unsuitable.”

Townsville Hospital director cardiology Dr Raibhan Yadav said that the ability to offer TAVI to high-risk patients was an important step forward for the Townsville Hospital and Health Service.

“Suitable patients previously could have travelled to Brisbane for the TAVI procedure but if a patient chose not to do this then there would eventually suffer heart failure or worse,” he said.

“For patients whose aortic stenosis and medical history means they can’t have the traditional surgery it is reassuring for them to know they can now have the TAVI procedure without the stress of travel.

“It also offers these patients the benefit of reduced recovery time and less time in hospital.”

Dr Sumit Yadav said the establishment of the TAVI service was a partnership between the hospital’s
cardiology and cardiothoracic departments.

“The surgery is performed by cardiologist Dr Lim Eng and myself and we undertook vital training
overseas to learn this procedure.

“We presented a strong business case for TAVI to be an option at The Townsville Hospital and it was
affirming to receive great support by the health service executive and board who endorsed the
concept.”

Dr Yadav said all three patients had recovered well from the procedure and had returned home.

“It has been really positive for our dedicated team to see the first lot of patients have good outcomes
with this procedure, he said.

“We expect to perform about 25 TAVI procedures each year and know that this will make a significant
difference to the lives of our patients moving forward.

“It will also paves the way for further complex procedures to be performed at this hospital in the
future.”

Last updated: 20 December 2018