UI doctors try new heart procedure

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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- Doctors at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics believe they may be the first to have done it.

About a month ago, they were able use a new method to replace not one, but two heart valves in the same patient at the same time— all without open heart surgery.

The valves control the flow of blood in a person’s heart.

In the past, doctors had to literally open up the heart to replace them. That required stopping, then restarting the organ.

It was risky for some patients.

These days, doctors have a new way to replace valves. They can use a catheter, threaded through an artery.

Typically, doctors placed one synthetic valve per patient, per day.

UI officials believe they’re the first to use a catheter to place two valves in a patient, during one doctor visit.

Seeing as it had never been done before, medical officials said the method posed some risks. But, the patient wasn’t healthy enough for heart surgery.

So, they were out of other options.

“Going in we had confidence that we could do it and we offered it to the patient," said UI Cardiac Surgeon Mohammad Bashir. "We let the patient know this had not been done before. We are very happy that we successfully got it done.”

The doctors said, besides being less invasive, patients have a shorter recovery time. Doctors said five days, compared to what would have been at least a couple weeks, for open heart surgery.

The medical team will be presenting their procedure and its successful results to cardiologists in Chicago next month.