Minimally Invasive Technique Saves Lives of Three High-risk Emirati Patients
Physicians at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi have successfully pioneered the use of a minimally invasive technique for high-risk heart patients, marking another important step for the UAE’s health system.
This is one of many new procedures for treating mitral valve disease and has only been used in a few medical institutions in Europe, reflecting Abu Dhabi’s increasing importance as a medical hub on the cutting edge of clinical innovation.
Using the technology, surgeons can perform a mitral valve annulus repair by implanting a device into a patient’s heart while it is still beating. The device is inserted via a vein in the patient’s groin and guided through the body and into the heart of the patient using echo and fluoroscopic imaging. This enables surgeons to repair the ring-like base of the damaged valve without the need for open-heart surgery.
Following intensive training, a multidisciplinary team conducted three procedures on high-risk Emirati national patients on April 7 and 8.
Dr. Rakesh Suri, CEO, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, who was the primary operator for the procedures, explains: “This is cutting-edge technology for high-risk patients who have failed all other therapies and have little chance of survival. This life-saving procedure is currently only available in Abu Dhabi and a few centers in Europe. We were only able to introduce this innovative approach because of the expertise of our physicians, nurses and technicians, along with the incredible support of our UAE leaders.”
The three Emirati female patients, aged 65, 72 and 88, had exhausted all other therapeutic options and were considered inoperable with standard techniques.
Just three days after undergoing the procedure, patient Noor Hasan Salmen Al Ameri, 88, said she could already feel the difference in her breathing.
“I was unable to walk and had been having heart valve issues for a long time,” Noor said. “This is a safer procedure for patients like me and, since my operation, there has been a noticeable difference in my breathing and health. I would like to thank the UAE’s leaders and Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi for providing such advanced healthcare, which means we do not have to go abroad for treatment.”
Shaika Ali Al Maskari, another patient who also underwent the innovative procedure, said she was very happy with the outcome. “It was very difficult to walk because I couldn’t breathe properly. I am also very excited to be only the second person in the UAE to receive this device. Hopefully, it will help me a lot and give me back my independence. I would also like to thank our government and leaders for making this possible.”
Dr. Thomas Bartel, Section Head of Invasive Cardiology in the hospital’s Heart & Vascular Institute, who was also a member of the multidisciplinary team that performed the new procedure, said: “We are extremely happy with the outcome of the three procedures. This procedure is a real benefit for the patients, who can now breathe without difficulty and enjoy their daily lives.”
Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi’s Heart & Vascular Institute is led by some of the world’s most respected physicians and surgeons who have access to international expertise through its strong partnership with the US-based Cleveland Clinic, whose heart program has been ranked as the best in America for 23 consecutive years by U.S. News and World Report’s “Best Hospitals".
What is the new treatment?
The procedure involves a transcatheter direct mitral valve annuloplasty system, which is inserted into a vein in the patient’s groin, enabling the team to implant the device in the beating heart of the patient. The device is designed to reshape the mitral valve and is attached to the annulus with stainless-steel anchors. This could only be done via surgery in the past.
The innovative, minimally invasive technology is used to treat high-risk patients with functional mitral regurgitation, a disease that causes the heart’s left ventricle to become enlarged and the valve opening, or annulus, to stretch. The condition leads to blood flowing in the wrong direction from the left ventricle chamber and into the lungs, which become congested and causes severe breathing problems in patients.
How does it align with other key treatments?
The transcatheter direct mitral valve annuloplasty system complements the Heart & Vascular Institute’s transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) program, which recently marked its 50th procedure, and is another minimally invasive intervention that offers high-risk patients an alternative to standard open-heart surgery.
“The new transcatheter direct mitral valve annuloplasty system expands our spectrum of percutaneous valve interventions, resulting in faster recovery for patients and providing more alternatives for older and sicker patients who are not eligible for major surgery,” said Dr. Mahmoud Traina, a Cardiologist in the Heart & Vascular Institute, who was a member of the team assisting with the surgeries.