CU leads way in major heart surgery breakthrough

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DENVER -- The University of Colorado Hospital Anschutz Medical Center is leading the way in one of the biggest breakthroughs ever in heart surgery.

Surgeons are now able to replace a heart valve without open heart surgery.

Dr. John Carroll says the new procedure doesn’t require stopping a patient’s heart. “People, particularly those where the risks of traditional surgery are higher, are at a lower risk.”

Surgeons use a catheter that runs through a tiny rib cage incision, then through the tip of the heart.

Inside the artery a tiny balloon then expands allowing the surgeon to install a new valve.

Patient Virgil Bailey, who has had quadruple bypass surgery in the past, says he’s thankful for the less invasive option and adds, “It’s been a 20-year battle with these heart problems, I’d like a break from it.”

Dr. Joseph Cleveland says the new procedure also benefits patients by requiring a shorter recovery period. “(They’re) able to be up moving within 6-12 hours after  the surgery, walking the next day, not put on a heart lung machine.”

Traditional recovery time for open heart surgery is four weeks initially and up to a year for complete recovery.

For more information you can contact the University of Colorado Hospital Anschutz Medical Center.