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Saturday 29th July 2017

Pioneering heart op for six-year-old boy

11th January 2010

UK surgeons have performed a heart valve widening operation on a six-year-old boy by making used of MRI scans as opposed to x-rays.

heart surgery

The procedure is the first of its kind in the world and was carried out at the King's Health Partners Academic Health Sciences Centre in London.

The team performed the operation on Jack Walborn, who has a condition called pulmonary valve stenosis, which limits blood flow to the lungs.

The blood flow from the right side of his heart was affected and he required an operation known as a valvuloplasty to broaden the valve.

In the operation, surgeons insert a catheter through a blood vessel and guide it to the heart. A balloon in the catheter is inflated to broaden the affected valve.

X-rays are normally used during the operation to keep an eye on the catheter's position as it moves through the body.

MRI scanning had previously been unable to be used by surgeons as it caused the metallic guiding wires inside the catheter to move and heat up.

The team at King's were able to use MRI scans to view the catheter by using glass fibre wires containing iron markers instead.

Judy O'Sullivan, a senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said: "Technology is advancing at a great pace and in the future we hope that many more patients will benefit from the use of MRI scans rather than x-ray imaging, as MRI avoids exposure to radiation."


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