The surgical team at the Montreal Heart Institute (MHI)
achieved a North American surgical milestone on May 1st with a sutureless
aortic valve replacement through a thoracic incision just five centimetres
long. The two patients in their seventies who underwent this innovative
procedure, which was performed by cardiac surgeons Denis Bouchard and Michel
Carrier, were doing well only one week after their operations.
A novel combination
“This innovative combination of implanting a Perceval™ S valve through a minimally
invasive thoracotomy signals great progress for Quebec’s aging population, as
3% of Quebeckers aged 75 and over suffer from severe aortic stenosis,”
stated Dr. Bouchard.
The sutureless valve opens like an umbrella and attaches to
the walls of the aorta thanks to its elastic self-anchoring frame. No sutures
are necessary, which decreases the risk of complications. Since the valve is
inserted through a thoracic opening that is barely five centimetres long and is
implanted without sutures, the surgery only takes one and a half hours, or
twice as less time than a conventional open-heart procedure.
Patients regain mobility faster
One of the patients who received the surgery, Madeleine Lacombe, a very active
79-year-old grandmother who is an avid golfer, had suffered from swelling and
shortness of breath for a number of months. Diagnosed with severe aortic
stenosis, she was worried about open-heart surgery, which would require a long
recovery period and make her miss out on enjoying the summer.
“I never thought I would get back on my feet so
quickly!” she said a week after her quick procedure, relieved to be in
such good form. “But I may have to forgo my tee times this year, as I
can’t find other 80-year-old women who can match my golf game!” She is
happy to be going back home to her apartment in Saint-Hyacinthe at the end of
With both of his patients in good health, Dr. Bouchard is
confident they will fully resume their normal lives within no more than a month
of the surgery. “Not only will vulnerable patients such as Ms. Lacombe be
at a lower risk of post-operative complications, they will also regain mobility
three times faster with this new procedure,” he explained.
With the success of both of these surgeries, the MHI is
planning to perform 30 similar procedures in the coming year on elderly
patients with higher surgical risks. Overall, more than 1600 cardiac procedures
were performed in 2010-2011 at the MHI’s surgical department.