News and Events

Israeli First at Rambam: New Technology Replaces Open Heart Surgery

Publication Date: 10/11/2015 8:00 AM

A team of Rambam cardiologists were the first in Israel to use a new, Israeli-developed technology to repair mitral valve regurgitation, as part of a multi-national clinical trial. The implantable device, recently acquired by a US leader in cardiology solutions from an Israeli start-up, is minimally invasive, and saves patients the need to undergo protracted and complex open-heart surgery.

Cardiologists performing the innovative procedure. Photography: RHCC.Cardiologists performing the innovative procedure. Photography: RHCC.

The Cardioband technology, developed by Valtech Cardio and recently approved for commercial use in Europe, was used for the first time in Israel at Rambam Health Care Campus to treat a 70-year-old patient, as part of an international clinical trial. Earlier this month Valtech Cardio announced that it is being purchased by the American company HeartWare.

The patient who received the treatment suffered from a history of heart disease, and had undergone several bypass surgeries. He experienced shortness of breath, a symptom of congestive heart failure that developed due to leakage from the mitral valve in his heart, a common condition where the valve that separates between the upper and left atria does not close completely. Until now, this condition could only be treated with open heart surgery, with its attendant risks and protracted hospitalization and recovery periods.

The new technology employed at Rambam combines a therapeutic implant with an insertion system that passes through the femoral vein to the left atria. There the implant is anchored to the mitral valve with specially designed “bolts” that are tightened by the surgeon to repair the valve.

According to Dr. Arthur Kerner, an Attending Physician in the Interventional Cardiology Unit at Rambam and the surgeon who carried out this first procedure in Israel, the results can be seen immediately: “When performing valve repair using open heart surgery, the heart function needs to be ceased, and the outcome of the procedure is only evident after the surgery is finished,” he explains. “In this case, the heart continues to function throughout the entire procedure and we can see if the leakage has stopped in real time.”

In order to ensure the optimal results, the entire procedure is carried out under the guidance of echocardiography imaging, which provides ultrasound images of the cardiovascular system. Assisting in the procedure was Professor Yoram Agmon, Director of the Non-Interventional Cardiology Unit, the Echocardiography Laboratory and the Heart Valve Clinic at Rambam, who was responsible for all the imaging along with Dr. Eitan Amnon, an Attending Physician in the Interventional Cardiology Unit.

Dr. Kerner notes that there is great demand for this new procedure: “Many people suffer from this disorder, particularly in older age,” he said, adding, “a solution that doesn’t require extensive surgery is clearly preferable. We at Rambam are always eager to remain at the cutting edge, and to integrate the newest clinical technologies available for the benefit of our patients.”

From Valtech Cardio: “We are proud and pleased with the Rambam Hospital team, that has joined a select group of leading hospitals in Europe who are using this new and advanced cardiac technology.”