Stone-like materials chiseled away from man’s heart

Cardiac Surgeons at Fortis Malar Hospital  recently laid down their scalpels for chisels and hammers to mend the heart of a 53-year-old worker. The patient had three stone-like objects – one as large as a lemon. Two of them were inside the heart and one outside. Doctors don’t yet know how such big calciferous objects, usually found in kidneys, accumulated in the heart. After surgeries over nearly four weeks, the patient – whose name has been withheld – is responding well to treatment. In December, the patient from Salem came to the hospital with severe chest pain and fatigue. Tests showed that his aortic valve, which controls the flow of blood into the aorta, had thickened because of calcium deposits. It affected the blood flow into the biggest artery, reducing the volume of blood pumped out of the heart by nearly half. Scans showed stones were pressing against the left and right ventricles (two of the four chambers) of the heart.

Doctors have earlier seen minor calcium deposits as plaques in the valves, but such huge amounts of calcified deposits are rare and was never seen such stones in the heart. Since such cases were not reported in the medical journals, surgeons had to devise a new strategy. They decided to remove the stones, replace the valves and do a bypass to increase the blood flow. A few hours ahead of the surgery, the surgical nurses were asked to borrow chisels and hammers from orthopedic surgeons. It took about seven hours for doctors to complete their procedure. Every step was new. The aortic valve had to be shifted to the septum, the muscular wall that separates the heart chambers. Doctors used glue as they could not suture some blood vessels. The patient was discharged two weeks after the surgery.

Coverage on the same appeared in the Times New Chennai