Vietnam doctors use uncommon heart surgery technique

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Doctors in Hanoi have successfully replaced a patient's heart valve with his own pulmonary valve to treat his heart valve failing, instead of using an artificial valve as usual, VnExpress reported Saturday.

According to the newswire, Vietnamese doctors have applied the technique, considered a difficult one, since 2003, but didn't announce it until recently.

The latest patient was a 23-year-old student identified only as Thuc, it said, adding that the three-hour operation was conducted by doctors of the Bach Mai Hospital in October and the patient released a week after.

It quoted Dr. Duong Duc Hung, who headed Thuc's operation, as saying that compared to replacement with an artificial heart valve, the technique, known as Ross procedure or pulmonary autograft, is more beneficial to patients.

It helps save the cost of an artificial heart valve, at least VND30 million (US$1,400), as well as drugs for preventing the patients' body from rejecting the transplanted valve, Hung said.

Furthermore, while artificial valves have a durability of some 15-17 years at maximum, requiring patients to undergo another operation to get a new one, the pulmonary valve can grow together with patients' body, according the doctor.

He also told the newswire that patients treated with the autograft technique don't have to take anti-disseminated intravascular coagulation drugs which can threaten their life with uncontrolled doses. They just have to have periodical check-ups.

However, the doctor also said that this technique is only suitable for young people.

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