Still-Beating Heart Operation Proves Successful in First UK Trial

By Gerald Lynch on at

For anyone that's endured the dreaded buzz and red glowing nose of Hasbro's Operation board game, you'll have a reasonably good idea of just how bloody hard pulling off open-heart surgery must be. But how about operating on the heart while it's still beating?

Now that's something else entirely. But, in a pioneering operation, it's been pulled off for the first time in the UK. Surgeons at the King's College Hospital in London operated on Mr Sevket Grocer, using a technique called "cardiac sewing" to help heal a heart failing so rapidly that Grocer was becoming breathless just from walking.

Rather than invasive traditional heart surgery which can see the entire organ shut off and blood pumping regulation handed over to a machine, the new procedure (which sees a wire anchored through two portions of the heart and tightened to effectively "remodel" the walls) can be carried out with the heart still performing its regular duties  By the end of the surgery, any damaging scar tissue has been removed and the volume of one of the heart chambers is reduced by a quarter, making it far more efficient.

With a trial of the technique on its way to proving the procedure can be successfully relied upon, this life-saving operation could soon become common practice in hospitals across the country. [BBC]