Tavi heart procedure helps 50 Scots
Friday 30th August 2013, 1:11PM BST.
The lives of more than 50 Scots have been improved after undergoing a pioneering operation which is an alternative to open heart surgery.
A specialist centre at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh is the only place north of the border performing the life-saving procedure in which faulty heart valves are replaced.
More than 50 patients have already undergone the transcatheter aortic valve implantation (Tavi) procedure at the unit, which was established almost a year ago.
The procedure can help those patients for whom open heart surgery would be too risky.
Before the unit in Edinburgh was set up, these patients had to travel out of Scotland to have it carried out.
Public health minister Michael Matheson visited the unit as it approached its first anniversary and watched as doctors carried out the specialist operation.
Tavi, considered less invasive than open-heart surgery, involves a replacement valve being passed through a hole in the groin and advanced up to the ascending aorta (artery) of the patient.
Mr Matheson said: “Some patients are too ill to receive open heart surgery and I am delighted to see this specialist service is working well to ensure they still get treatment they need.
“Previously, this service was only available outside of Scotland and people had to travel to get it.
“Within the first year, this dedicated specialist service has improved the lives of over 50 patients and the team at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh are doing a fantastic job.”
As well as watching on as the surgery was carried out, Mr Matheson met patients who have already undergone the Tavi procedure.
David MacDonald, 82, from Kirkcaldy, Fife, said he “felt like a new person” after having the surgery in April this year.
“The consultants told me that I would need heart surgery but it would have been too risky to open me up again because of my bypass from years before,” he said.
“To be honest I thought it was the end. Every day was scary, my family were very worried about me.”
Mr MacDonald said his wife Eileen was “getting in such a state” about his health but added: ” After the surgery I felt like a new person.
“The staff at the hospital were absolutely excellent and I really have been given a new lease of life.
“Before I underwent the surgery I couldn’t walk very far without feeling breathless and was falling asleep all the time.
“I’m back playing bowls again now and still enjoying an occasional round of golf.”
Dr Neal Uren, consultant cardiologist at the Edinburgh Heart Centre at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, said: “The keyhole surgery is less invasive than more traditional treatment, as a replacement valve is passed through a hole in the groin and advanced up to the ascending aorta of the patient.
“This means that we are able to provide life-changing surgery to patients who may otherwise have been unable to undergo a conventional open heart operation.”
Dr David Farquharson, medical director at NHS Lothian, said: “The Tavi centre has benefited many patients across Scotland since it opened at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh last year.
“The Edinburgh Heart Centre at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh is a centre of excellence and Tavi adds to the first-class services which are already provided.”