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Danielle Grant-Cross (email)
Cardiovascular Research Centre
Royal Adelaide Hospital
Business: +61 8 8222 2724
Mobile: 0419 819 550
Mr David Ellis (email)
Media and Communications Officer
Marketing & Communications
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 5414
Mobile: +61 421 612 762
Monday, 12 February 2007
A University of Adelaide cardiologist has saved the life of a 70-year-old Adelaide woman after performing a world first operation to repair a tear in her heart.
Professor Stephen Worthley from the University's Discipline of Medicine and the Cardiovascular Research Centre in Adelaide used a combination of medical imaging, catheters, and a butterfly-shaped plug to fix the tear which normally leads to fatal blood loss within seconds.
It is the first time this procedure has been performed in the world.
The patient, Mrs Patricia Warwick, sustained severe damage to her heart muscles and tissues after contracting rheumatic heart disease in her childhood. She had undergone previous surgery to fix her damaged valves, Professor Worthley said.
"Her heart muscles were severely degenerated, making sewing of the valves difficult and the tear impossible to repair. The tear created an unstable hernia with blood and clots ready to burst any time, essentially leading to sudden death from internal bleeding," Professor Worthley said.
"It is extremely rare to see such a patient as they have normally died before we are aware of the problem. Mrs Warwick displayed incredible strength of character and enthusiasm prior to and after the operation," he said.
The operation, performed at the Royal Adelaide Hospital on 8 February, involved inserting a butterfly-shaped plug, attached to a catheter, into Mrs Warwick's heart. The plug acts as a barrier to blood pooling in the area, containing it within a thin fragile membrane.
Heart disease is Australia's number one killer, responsible for about 50,000 deaths each year and affecting approximately 3.67 million Australians.
Professor Worthley occupies the Helpman Chair of Cardiovascular Medicine in the Discipline of Medicine at the University of Adelaide.
MEDIA: Both Professor Worthley and Mrs Warwick are available for comment, along with the real time computerised radiography detailing the procedure and plug device.