In what it claims is a first in India, a private hospital in Ahmedabad on Monday conducted a triple valve replacement surgery using a minimally invasive technique that required a three to four inch incision.

Six weeks ago, HCG Hospital conducted the surgery on a 61-year-old woman from Mehsana weighing 32 kg, replacing three valves of her heart — mitral, aortic and tricuspid — with mechanical valves in a three-hour surgery. The patient was hospitalised for six more days post-operation and will require periodic follow-ups and lifelong medication of blood thinners.

“Blood thinners are necessary since if a clot forms at any point of time, it can get stuck to the mechanical valves,” said senior interventional cardiologist at HCG Hospital Dr Jay Shah.

Complaining of fatigue, breathlessness and palpitation with an inability to sleep while lying down, echocardiography suggested severe mitral and aortic stenosis, that is narrowing of the mitral and aortic valve, along with organic tricuspid valve disease with severe tricuspid regurgitation, that is backflow of the blood from the valve, and severe pulmonary artery hypertension. Her malfunctioning valves had also caused her to lose a massive amount of weight.

Dr Shah said that while the usual procedure of replacing three heart valves involves cutting through the breastbone, the same was not feasible in the case of the patient owing to her being underweight and her age.

The Director of department of cardiac surgery at HCG Group of Hospitals, Dr Brajmohan Singh, said that usually minimally invasive procedures had been done in cases where two valves were replaced and the third valve repaired. But this was a unique case where the three valves were replaced through a minimally invasive procedure. Dr Singh added that the procedure was done under Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana scheme, permitting the patient to be treated free of cost for the surgery, which would have otherwise cost Rs 10 lakh.

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