New heart surgery helps children with congenital heart disease

Tuesday, May 28th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

A new medical procedure at St Francis hospital in Tulsa, raises the bar for the care of children with congenital heart disease.

A year ago after a routine physical, a pediatrician told 12-year-old Tyler Ramsey, he had a hole in his heart. "I didn't feel any difference because I was used to what I usually feel. I wouldn't know what it feels like." Tyler's mom, "It just sounded horrible a hole in my son's heart."

Tyler was later was diagnosed with Atrial Septal Defect or ASD, a potentially fatal heart defect that occurs in one out of every 1,500 children and if left untreated could cause heart failure. His only choice at the time was open-heart surgery. But a new device approved by the Food And Drug Administration in December is giving young people like Tyler an alternative.

The device is a polyester, mesh-metal device that inserts into the groin through a catheter. The catheter then goes though the veins of the body through the heart. The mesh is then pushed out to cover the hole and is detached once the hole is covered. The procedure takes only an hour and leaves patients with a small scar. "Before open heart surgery would have to be performed to close these holes and involves a large incision in the middle of chest and placing patient on a cardiopulmonary bypass machine to stop the heart. And now we have the ability to do these procedures through the groin it actually makes the recover time almost instantaneous." St. Francis Pediatric Cardiologist Dr. Mark Kimberling says patients are back on their feet within hours and can resume normal activities within weeks.

Tyler is one of six patients who've already had the surgery and says he feels much better as result. " I feel a little tired but it'll go away."