Sharjah: State-of-the-art technology has come to the aid of two Emirati heart patients at Al Qasimi Hospital who were unable to undergo open-heart surgery.

A tiny clip (which looks like a mini clothespin) implanted through an artery was safer and nearly as effective as surgery for the patients who had leaky heart valves, Dr Arif Al Nooryani, CEO and head of the cardiology department at the hospital, told Gulf News.

The patients, aged 61 and 78, were suffering from mitral regurgitation which causes symptoms such as fatigue and shortness of breath. The percutaneous mitral valve repair procedure (Abbott”™s MitraClip) is considered the first of its kind in the UAE, Dr Al Nooryani said.

Surgery is generally recommended to repair or replace the mitral valve. This typically involves open-heart surgery and patients may take several months to recover.

The MitraClip procedure is minimally invasive and uses catheter-based technology.

Dr Yousuf Mohammad Al Sarkal, Assistant Undersecretary for the Hospitals Sector at the Ministry of Health, visited the patients after the operation.

“The 15mm MitraClip allows us to provide a life-saving treatment option for more patients with heart problems. Not all are so bad they need treatment, but the worst cases can lead to heart failure over time,” said Dr Al Nooryani.

He said the Ministry of Health bore the cost of the device.

“The percutaneous mitral repair valve system is composed of three main parts: A steerable guide catheter, a clip delivery system and the MitraClip device [implant].

“Mitral regurgitation [MR] is a condition in which the heart”™s mitral valve leaflets do not close tightly. When this happens, blood flows backward from the heart”™s left ventricle into the left atrium. The heart must then work harder to push blood through the body, which can cause fatigue, shortness of breath and worsening heart failure.

“With the patient under general anaesthesia, doctors push a tube into a blood vessel in the groin and guide it into the heart. The device, a fabric-covered metal clothespin, is mounted on the end of the tube and clips the two flaps of the valve together,” he added.

Worldwide, approximately 10,000 people have undergone the MitraClip procedure since it was launched in 2003, Dr Al Nooryani said.

The operation takes around two hours if there are no complications but if there are complications it could take around three to four hours, he said.

The MitraClip device costs Dh250,000 and will help reduce the number of people going abroad for treatment.

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