Rare Heart Valve Procedure Saves Gresham Man

Donald Mathews of Gresham had a great reason to celebrate the New Year, thanks to a life-saving heart procedure performed by the Marshfield Clinic and Ministry Health Care heart care team.

Mathews underwent percutaneous paravalvular leak closure on Oct. 19 at Ministry Saint Clare’s Hospital in Weston. The procedure, performed by three cardiologists, was done through insertion of catheters into Mathew’s blood vessels, not through typical open-heart surgery methods.

“This surgery was a blessing and a great early Christmas present,” said Mathews. “I’m feeling much stronger and can’t thank everyone enough for what they’ve done for me.”

Marshfield Clinic cardiologists Drs. Dan Gavrila, Guruprasad Naik and Rohit Srivastava worked together as a team to perform the procedure.

“It required a team approach because of the complexity of the procedure,” Gavrila said. “As the result of this approach, we were able to place a plug in a hole next to an artificial heart valve inside the heart, while it was beating.”

Two cardiologists used catheters to put the plug into place, while the other cardiologist monitored the 3D EchoCardiography of the heart, essentially acting as a navigator for the others.

“This is another example of our Joint Heart Care Team working together to produce fantastic results for our patients,” said Dr. Larry Hegland, chief medical officer at Ministry Saint Clare’s Hospital.

Mathews, 83, underwent open heart surgery 10 years ago to have an artificial valve placed in his heart. A year later, again using standard open heart surgery, he had a second artificial valve used to replace the first that had failed.

About a year ago, the second valve showed signs of leakage between the edge of the valve and the tissue of the heart wall. This leakage caused Mathews to be in severe congestive heart failure and led to destruction of blood cells and anemia.

“The fluid was leaking into my lungs. I could hardly walk from the lake back to my house, just a few hundred feet,” said Mathews. “Now I’m back to my daily walks and feeling much stronger.”

The traditional treatment is another open heart surgery to replacing the valve, but doctors felt this option was very high risk for Mathews. After discussion, a less-invasive procedure was chosen.

During the percutaneous paravalvular leak closure, the cardiologists used a plug that’s compacted to fit into a catheter. Once in place, it “springs” open, enlarging to fill the hole. In this case, the hole was 6 to 7 millimeters wide and about 2 centimeters long.

The procedure took about five hours. Mathews was up and walking later that same day, and was released from Ministry Saint Clare’s just three days after the procedure.

“In this case, Mr. Mathews has had resolution of his congestive heart failure, which is allowing him a substantially better quality of life,” Gavrila said.

“We’re pleased to be able to offer this challenging procedure to our patients, right here in central and northern Wisconsin,” he said. “To the best of our knowledge, this procedure has not been previously performed in this area.”

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