LHSC pioneers two cardiac surgical firsts

October 2, 2018

Surgeons at London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) have pioneered the use of a new trans-catheter aortic valve, offering patients faster recovery and better long-term outcomes than previously available.

In a Canadian first, a multidisciplinary heart team at University Hospital implanted a device called the Medtronic Evolut Pro Valve through the femoral artery of patient Linda Poeltl, avoiding the open heart surgery Poeltl believed she would need to replace her damaged aortic valve.

“I knew I wouldn’t be able to manage much longer without surgery to fix my heart,” said Poeltl of Ingersoll, Ontario. “I was out of breath and my legs were very swollen. I couldn’t believe how much better I felt when I woke up from surgery. It’s been nice to get back to the things I enjoy again like tending to my gardens and taking care of my home.”

The advances made in cardiac surgery, and particularly, in valve surgery in recent years have drastically improved outcomes for patients in need of life-saving surgery. “Devices such as the Evolut Pro Valve are truly remarkable in their ability to create enormous benefit, with minimal invasiveness and fewer complications,” said Dr. Bob Kiaii, LHSC Chief of Cardiac Surgery. “Leakage used to be a concern with valve implantation, but this device has a double ‘skirt’ to help avoid that potential. It’s a big advance for patients needing this type of procedure.”

One week after Poeltl received her life-changing surgery a second patient, Rosa Mascherin, was in the operating room in need of a similar valve replacement. Doctors had determined that her femoral artery was too small for the valve to be inserted the standard way, so in a world-first procedure, the Medtronic Evolut Pro Valve was implanted directly through the main aorta, avoiding the need for open-heart surgery and the extensive recovery that valve replacement surgery requires.

“If it wasn’t for Dr. Kiaii and this surgery, I wouldn’t still be here today,” says Mascherin, of Windsor, Ontario. “I was very sick before the operation. I was always out of breath, and had trouble doing the things I loved like cooking and spending time in my garden. Now that I’ve had the surgery, I’m in the kitchen all the time, and feel confident going out knowing that I won’t lose my breath the way I used to.”

LHSC has long been at the forefront of cardiac innovation, ensuring patients have access to the most appropriate and effective treatment options available. “It is amazing to watch the transformation of our patients pre- and post-surgery,” said Dr. Kiaii. “In Ms. Poeltl and Ms. Mascherin’s cases, the devices we implanted have allowed them to return to many of the things they enjoyed doing before they became ill in a short period of time. There’s nothing more rewarding for a surgeon than to see patients leave the hospital with a new lease on life.”

Kiaii and Patients

(L to R) Dr. Bob Kiaii, Chief, Cardiac Surgery; Linda Poeltl; Rosa Mascherin; Dr. Daniel Bainbridge, Anesthetist

multidisciplinary heart team

Part of the multidisciplinary heart team who performed the world and Canadian firsts