Ljubljana heart surgeons perform pioneering surgery

Ljubljana, 1 March - The heart surgery team at the UKC Ljubljana hospital have performed a pioneering surgery on two patients that promises to significantly reduce recovery time and hospitalisation.

The doctors have successfully replaced mitral heart valves on a beating heart without the use of pumps for extracorporeal life support, with only minimal incision, UKC Ljubljana said on Wednesday.

Defective mitral valves have been successfully treated for years using extracorporeal life support, a procedure where the heart is stopped and blood is pumped through the body by a machine.

Then in August last year the heart surgery team successfully operated on a beating heart through the femoral vein in the groin, but this procedure is only suitable for old patients.

Now, aided by a team from the University of Padua, doctors operated on two patients through a 5-centimetre incision in the thorax, fully restoring the functionality of the mitral valves.

UKC Ljubljana said only 160 such procedures had been performed worldwide so far. In Ljubljana the technique will now be used on patients in all age groups.