Doctor saves woman's life with custom-made heart attack patch

HeartdeviceA doctor in Southampton has become the first in the world to use a revolutionary custom-made patch to save the life of an elderly heart attack patient.

Dr Joseph Vettukattil, a consultant congenital cardiologist at Southampton General Hospital, was called on after surgeons felt an invasive open procedure to repair a large hole in the 85-year-old woman’s heart was too risky.

As the severe attack created a hole too wide for closure with conventional devices, Dr Vettukattil used his own radical scanning technique – multiplane review 3D echocardiography – to take measurements of the affected area.

The technology allows users to see the three dimensions of the heart move simultaneously for the first time and “chop” the heart into small pieces to see what is wrong on screen without any physical intervention.

He then emailed the images to a specialist company in Sweden who created the patch and had it delivered within 48 hours.

“This lady had suffered a very severe heart attack and surgeons felt it too much of a risk to operate on her, which left the options extremely limited and her chances of survival slim,” said Dr Vettukattil, who usually specialises in children’s heart conditions.

“When I looked at the hole, it was large and unsuitable for closure, so I tried my luck and asked a company whether they could help. They designed it precisely to my drawings and the device was flown in within 48 hours.”

Dr Vettukattil said the case could prove to be a milestone in treatment options for patients who suffer severe heart attacks.

“With the information available from such sensitive scanning as 3D echocardiography, we could see the introduction of a specific device to address particular problems such as acute heart attacks and this process is already underway.”

Posted on Thursday 13 December 2012