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For Immediate Release:
December 19, 2011

New minimally invasive heart valve replacement procedure at London Health Sciences Centre


(LONDON, Ontario) – London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) is the only centre in southwestern Ontario performing a new method of minimally invasive aortic valve replacement, a procedure which enables surgeons to replace failing heart valves without the patient having to undergo major surgery.

"I am so happy and grateful to have had this procedure at LHSC,” says Klassien Kainz, 76 years-old. “I went from not being able to walk across the road, due to my cardiac issues, to now being able to travel, volunteer at my church and live a full and happy life.”

Instead of breaking the patient’s sternum to gain access to the troubled aortic valve and performing open heart surgery, a tiny catheter is inserted into an artery or base of the heart to gain access to the heart and then replace the aortic valve.

The benefits are no broken breast bone, no open-heart operation and a much faster recovery. The transcatheter valve procedure takes about 90 minutes, compared with four to six hours for open-heart surgery.

"This is very exciting non-invasive technology for heart valve replacement,” says Dr. Bob Kiaii, Chief, Division of Cardiac Surgery and Associate Professor, The University of Western Ontario. “The procedure opens doors to high risk patients who would not be served well by current therapies for open-heart surgery.”

Adds Dr. Daniel Bainbridge, Anesthesiologist and Director of Cardiac Anesthesia and Associate Professor, The University of Western Ontario, “This procedure is an excellent example of team work, with each specialty, including cardiology, anesthesiology, surgery, nurses and clinical perfusionists, all providing their unique expertise to patient care. The benefit to the patient is an excellent result with minimal pain and rapid recovery after surgery.”

Aortic valves, which regulate blood flow from the heart into the aorta, can fall victim, typically with age and the onset of cardiovascular disease, to stenosis (failure to open) and insufficiency (which leads blood to flow in the wrong direction back into the heart). Aortic stenosis results in a poor quality of life and a high rate of death, approximately 50 per cent, in the first two to three years after diagnosis without surgical intervention.

Approximately one to three per cent of Canadians aged 65-75, two to four per cent aged 75-85, and four per cent older than 85 suffer from severe aortic stenosis.

"The work being undertaken at LHSC is innovative and offers state-of-the-art care for our patients,” says Dr. Patrick Teefy, Cardiologist and Director, Cardiac Catheter Lab and Associate Professor, The University of Western Ontario. “Our entire team is proud to be a part of this important advancement in patient care and clinical research.”

The Cardiac Care team at LHSC has performed this new minimally invasive procedure 13 times. Health Canada approves certain high-risk cases for the procedure, with funding currently being provided through generous donations to London Health Sciences Foundation. The foundation is continuing to raise funds for this procedure, which it says is a good example of donor support helping enhance and advance the current high-standard of health care available to families in the province.

About London Health Sciences Centre
London Health Sciences Centre has been in the forefront of medicine in Canada for 136 years and offers the broadest range of specialized clinical services in Ontario. Building on the traditions of its founding hospitals to provide compassionate care in an academic teaching setting, London Health Sciences Centre is home to Children’s Hospital, South Street Hospital, University Hospital, Victoria Hospital, two family medical centres, and two research institutes – Children’s Health Research Institute and Lawson Health Research Institute, a joint research initiative with St. Joseph’s Health Care, London. As a leader in medical discovery and health research, London Health Sciences Centre has a history of over 50 international and national firsts and attracts top clinicians and researchers from around the world. As a regional referral centre, London Health Sciences Centre cares for the most medically complex patients including critically injured adults and children in Southwestern Ontario and beyond. The hospital’s nearly 15,000 staff, physicians, students and volunteers provide care for more than one million patient visits a year. For more information visit www.lhsc.on.ca


For media inquiries contact:
Rachelle Wood
Corporate Communications and Public Relations
London Health Sciences Centre
519-685-8500, ext. 77642