Doctor says Canadian-led heart valve surgery details will ‘blow people’s minds’

Vancouver’s Dr. David Wood led a study involving 411 patients

A Vancouver cardiologist has presented details of a revolutionary heart valve surgery to thousands of doctors from around the world and says the minimally invasive procedure will “blow people’s minds.”

Dr. David Wood led a study involving 411 patients who underwent an operation called 3M transcatheter aortic valve replacement for treating aortic heart valve disease, at 13 centres across North America, 11 of them in Canada.

“It’s going to change, we think, not just North American, but global practice,” Wood said Monday before presenting the study at the annual Transcatheter Cardiovascular Therapeutics conference in Denver, where 15,000 attendees had enrolled.

Instead of invasive open heart surgery, which requires general anesthetic, slicing of the sternum, or breastbone, and long hospital stays and recovery time, patients were awake for the 45-minute procedure and walking within a few hours. Eighty per of them went home the next day.

“You had no breathing tube, no catheter in your bladder, you could return to work the next day, you could be driving the next day. These are things that I think the average person can’t believe are feasible in 2017,” said Wood, who practises at Vancouver General Hospital and St. Paul’s Hospital in the same city.

The aortic valve is the most important of four heart valves and leads from the heart to the body, supplying blood to the head, lungs and muscles. It wears out and narrows with age.

The median age of patients in the study was 84, and their symptoms include chest pain and shortness of breath.

“Once you start getting symptoms, 50 per cent of people are going to be dead within a year so it’s absolutely imperative that you fix that valve,” Wood said.

The new innovation builds on a technique pioneered by Wood’s colleague Dr. John Webb in 2005, which still required general anesthetic and a week-long hospital stay.

“By doing less, actually the patients did better,” he said of their work done at the Centre for Heart Valve Innovation involving St. Paul’s, VGH and the University of British Columbia.

“It’s truly been a revolution,” he said, adding the latest procedure means quality of life for patients and cost savings for the health-care system, aspects his team are looking into quantifying.

Sister Theresa Stickley had the “miracle” surgery in 2013 at age 83 when she lived in Squamish, B.C., and became increasingly exhausted and had difficulty breathing.

“The doctor told me I was very close to death and had a couple of months only to live,” Stickley said of the surgery that meant she didn’t have to have her “whole chest bone sawed through.”

“I was walking right after the surgery,” she said from the Monastery of the Angels in Los Angeles, where the American-Canadian citizen moved last year.

Max Morton, 79, was the first person to have the procedure as an emergency-room patient at Vancouver General Hospital. He’d already had open heart surgery a decade earlier.

“Within 24 hours I thought, well, this is nice. It was such an amazing experience being awake for the whole thing,” he said from his home in Richmond, B.C., adding he went fishing five days later.

“The only reason Max is alive is because we’d been doing the study and we were able to use that technique for Max. That’s why he’s such an amazing story. No one had ever done it before like that.”

— Follow @CamilleBains1 on Twitter.

Camille Bains, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Over $650,00 given to rural communities thanks to Rural Dividends

Five communities, including Williams Lake, are receiving $10,000 for project grants

Pregnant Cariboo firefighter tries to save own house from blaze

Julia Flinton and Anthony Sellars both worked on the 2017 wildfires

Road report for Highway 20

Fog patches and slippery sections; Drive BC

Woman killed in head-on crash near Vanderhoof

RCMP say driver crossed the centre line and hit a loaded fuel tanker truck

Mining company prospecting for gold near Bella Coola

Gold discovered in alpine areas where glaciers are receding

B.C. opioid crisis to get same world-renowned treatment approach as HIV/AIDS

A program that focuses on treatment as prevention will roll out Jan. 17

Olympian snowboarder Max Parrot diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma

Each year in Canada, approximately 900 people are diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma

‘Prince of Pot’ Marc Emery accused of sexual assault, harassment

Emery denied the allegations, but a Toronto woman says she is not the only one speaking out

Vancouver Island photographer makes National Geographic’s 2018 elite

Rare double honour for Marston from the 36 best Your Shots out of nearly 19,000 photos

Ex-Liberal candidate in Burnaby, B.C., says volunteer wrote controversial post

Karen Wang dropped out following online post singling out NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh’s ethnicity

Asteroids are smacking Earth twice as often as before

The team counted 29 craters that were no older than 290 million years

Canada’s arrest of Huawei exec an act of ‘backstabbing,’ Chinese ambassador says

China has called Canada’s arrest of Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou ‘politically motivated’

Port authority imposes ban on development around Lelu Island

Following Pacific Northwest LNG, there will be no future projects proposed near Flora Bank

In limbo: Leftover embryos challenge clinics, couples

Some are outright abandoned by people who quit paying storage fees and other couples struggle with tough decisions

Most Read