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UIHC surgeons perform innovative tricuspid repair, first in Iowa

A device the size of a fingernail could reduce invasive open heart surgeries.

Some Iowans living with heart valve issues may not be good candidates for surgery to fix it, but now there’s new hope.

Done for the first time in Iowa in October, a minimally invasive tricuspid valve repair could revolutionize treatment for this common heart issue.

"Valve disease is one of the most common that cardiologists face," University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinic interventional cardiologist Dr. Phillip Horowitz says.

One of the most common of those valve diseases is tricuspid valve regurgitation.

"When that valve is diseased it allows blood to come back into the rest of the body. That causes problems for patients," UIHC cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Mohammed Bashir says.

This familiar diagnosis wasn't treatable for all patients.

"Up until the last few years, there were many patients around the country and in Iowa who had valve problems and they were simply not good candidates to have open heart surgery," Dr. Horowitz explains.

Now open heart surgery may not be the only option for heart patients in Iowa, thanks to a tiny clip the size of a fingernail.

“We go up through the groin using this catheter technology. It's called a mitral clip,” Dr. Bashir explains. “It can flex down towards the valve and is able to clip both leaflets together to reduce leakage."

The device isn’t new. A team of doctors at University of Iowa's heart and vascular center are taking current methods and revolutionizing them.

"Actually, the technology we used for the tricuspid valve is not FDA-approved for the tricuspid valve so this is thinking outside the box," Dr. Bashir says.

It's a minimally invasive procedure that could have huge impact in the future of cardiology.

"We're the only site in Iowa doing this procedure. There are a few places at major centers around the country that are able to offer this specific treatment," Dr. Horowitz says.

The first patient to receive this repair at UIHC was a 77 year old Coralville woman; that surgery was a success.

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