Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital (GH) has joined the league of hospitals performing minimally-invasive cardiothoracic surgeries in the city. Surgeons at the hospital performed a minimally-invasive surgery on a 17-year-old girl for an atrial septal defect last month.
Doctors said this was the first minimally-invasive surgery performed at GH. It was performed in place of the regular sternotomy in which the sternum – chest bone is cut open. The hospital got special instruments for the surgery.
“In sternotomy and open heart surgery, the patient cannot lift weights or climb stairs for six months. It is painful, requires blood transfusion and leaves a scar,” said K.S. Ganesan, professor of cardiothoracic surgery, GH.
For M. Valarmathi, a resident of Alevalam, Tiruvarur district, the procedure not only corrected her congenital ailment but also left her almost scar-less. Her family was unaware of the condition until she started to complain of giddiness. The girl, who discontinued her studies after class XI, was referred to GH.
She had problems of weight loss and weighed only 35 kg. After examining her, doctors planned the procedure and a seven-member team performed the surgery on October 22.
“We made a four-centimetre incision. The hole in her heart measured five cm. We collapsed the function of the right lung and stopped the heart for 20 minutes. The patient was on the heart-lung machine and we corrected the defect by closing it using a patch in a three-and-a-half-hour long surgery,” Dr. Ganesan told reporters on Wednesday.
The procedure was cosmetically superior as it left no scar, said Raja Venkatesh, head, department of cardiothoracic surgery. It minimised the duration of hospital stay as well as chances of infections.
“Open heart surgery would have required at least four to five units of blood for transfusion but as we did a small incision, there was no need for blood transfusion. The surgery costs around Rs. 5 lakh in private hospitals,” Dr. Ganesan added.
Minimally-invasive surgeries can be performed for mitral valve replacement, aortic valve replacement and coronary artery bypass graft, he added.
Valarmathi, who lost her father when she was about two years old, is supported by her uncle. “I want to continue my studies and will join class XII,” she said.
Anand Prathap, resident medical officer, said the surgery was covered under the Chief Minister’s comprehensive health insurance scheme.
The department has requested the government to purchase a Rs. 20-crore robotic device to perform cardiothoracic surgeries. “We are also likely to get left ventricular assistive devices and an Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation machine used for those with massive infarction and acute respiratory distress syndrome,” Dr. Ganesan said.