Non-surgical heart valve repair

Posted on 29 January 2013

A Mediclinic patient with dextrocardia situs inversus has had a leaky valve non-surgically repaired – the first time this particular procedure has been done on a patient with a transposed heart.

What is dextrocardia situs inversus?
This is an physical anomaly that means the heart is positioned on the right side of the chest rather than the left. It occurs in approximately 1 in 12 000 people, most of whom have no symptoms or complications.

Why did this patient need non-surgical intervention?
Apart from being born with this unusual condition, Marianna Cronje (59) also had rheumatic fever as a child, an inflammatory illness that caused long-term complications with her heart. Over the course of 40 years she underwent four open-heart operations, including a valve replacement in 2000. As a result of scar tissue and other complications, doctors decided this was her last surgery and so, when the valve began to leak, there were no surgical options available. Her health declined to the point where she had to be referred to Dr Hellmuth Weich at Mediclinic Panorama for a non-surgical heart valve repair.

How was the heart valve repaired non-surgically?
According to Dr Weich, ‘This procedure is technically difficult in a patient with normal anatomy and has never been done before on someone with dextrocardia.’ For this reason he was joined in the operating theatre by two experts from Switzerland, Professor Eric Eeckhout and Dr Alain Delabays. The procedure was conducted by puncturing a hole in the patient’s groin and feeding a tube through a vein into the right atrium of the heart. A hole was then made in the wall of the heart to give access to the left atrium. The leak in the valve was then closed using two disc-like devices and the operation was considered a success.

Read more about this world-first procedure here.

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The information provided in this article was correct at the time of publishing. At Mediclinic we endeavour to provide our patients and readers with accurate and reliable information, which is why we continually review and update our content. However, due to the dynamic nature of clinical information and medicine, some information may from time to time become outdated prior to revision.

Published in Cardiology

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