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Heart Surgery without a Scalpel is a New Possibility

Update Date: Mar 25, 2013 10:20 AM EDT

Heart surgeries might not have to be all about cutting and stitching up anymore as a new technique avoids using the scalpel to open up patients' hearts. During the American College of Cardiology Conference that took place earlier in the month in San Francisco, CA, cardiologist Dr. Spencer King revealed his new method in fixing a heart valve without open-heart surgery. King, who is from the St. Joseph's Heart and Vascular Institute in Atlanta, GA, used a catheter to repair a heart valve, and now, he suggests that a lot of heart surgeries can be done with minimally invasive procedures.

This new approach to heart surgeries is being tested by several surgeons and has been shown to be very effective. The use of the catheter can help unclog arteries and fix certain heart rhythm complications. The method has expanded to being used for repairing valves, irregular heartbeats, holes within the heart, and several other defects that would have all required open-heart surgeries in the past. This new surgical option offers patients and doctors a safer way in fixing heart complications. Open-heart surgeries require the breaking of the breastbone, whereas this catheter method is barely invasive.

"This is the replacement for the surgeon's knife. Instead of opening the chest, we're able to put catheters in through the leg, sometimes through the arm," King explained. "Many patients after having this kind of procedure in a day or two can go home."

The catheter method involves using the hollowness of these tubes in fixing defects and reshaping the heart tissues through the access of small holes and into blood vessels. Although this new technique and other treatment options using similar devices are gaining popularity, the procedure options are not for everyone and are still very new. However, according to King, this procedure is a safer alternative to open-heart surgeries for the elderly in particular.

Even though the effectiveness and benefits of new treatment options take years to measure, this new form of heart surgery promises to deliver good results. Current research regarding this method observes how this procedure can help patients with high blood pressure. If this type of procedure can open up new ways in dealing with heart complications and condition, it can be extremely valuable in the future. 

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