News archive 2010
World's first heart operation using MRI11 Jan 2010, PR 05/10
A six-year-old boy has successfully had a valve in his heart widened using an MRI scan rather than x-ray imaging. This groundbreaking technique has been developed by a team that included clinicians and scientists from King's Health Partners.
Jack Walborn (pictured) was born with the heart condition pulmonary valve stenosis, which obstructs the outflow of blood from the right side of the heart, resulting in a reduction of blood flow to the lungs. Having monitored his condition since birth, it was decided Jack needed an intervention called valvuloplasty to widen the valve and allow more blood to flow.
In this operation, a cardiac catheter is inserted into a blood vessel in the arm or groin and then guided through the body towards the heart. At the tip of the catheter is a balloon which is gently inflated to widen the narrowed heart valve.
Traditionally, interventionalists would use x-ray imaging to track the progress of the catheter through the body, but the new technique uses MRI rather than x-ray.
Performing the catheterisation under the guidance of an MRI scan means that patients are not exposed to radiation, something that is especially important for paediatric patients who are at an even higher risk from long-term side effects of the radiation from x-rays. The MRI scan also provides a clearer image that contains information about the different tissues in the body in real time throughout the surgery. This allows clinicians to more accurately assess the severity of the disease before the intervention and the degree of improvement afterwards.
Previous to Jack’s intervention, clinicians had been able to use MRI for diagnostic scans but it was not possible to use it for interventional treatment because the guide wires used for cardiac catheterisation were made of metal.
Dr Aphrodite Tzifa, a Clinical Research Fellow at King’s College London, part of King’s Health Partners said: 'We were faced with a problem because an MRI scanner uses a powerful magnetic field to construct images of the body. This magnetism not only caused the guide wire to move around inside the body, but also resulted in the tip of the wire heating up to temperatures of up to 70ºC.
'We have been working for the last three years to develop a new guide wire that can be used with MRI and have come up with a fibreglass wire that has small iron markers along it that can be seen on the scan.'
Professor Reza Razavi, Professor of Imaging Science at King’s College London and Consultant Paediatric Cardiologist at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, also part of King’s Health Partners, said: 'We are delighted with the results of Jack’s surgery. After years of research and development by a large team of scientists both here and in Germany, we have performed the procedure safely and successfully.
'This work is the perfect example of translational research in action. Through collaboration with the hospital and university in our partnership, we have been able to transfer research from the laboratory to the bedside and ensure that patients benefit from developments as quickly as possible. We are very proud of this great achievement, which is an important milestone for both the scientists and clinicians and researchers working on the technique, as well as the many patients who will benefit.'
[Photograph of Jack Warborn taken by Gemma Peers]
Notes to editors
The new technique has received approval by the King’s College Hospital Research Ethics Committee and the new device used during catheterisation has been approved by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
The fibreglass device has been developed in partnership with Phillips Healthcare Research in Hamburg, the Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology in Aachen, Hemoteg GmbH in Germany and the University Hospital of Aachen in Germany. This project has been supported by the NIHR comprehensive Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) at Guy’s and St Thomas’ and King’s College London, part of King’s Health Partners. The BRC aims to advance scientific understanding for the benefit of patients.
King's College London
King's College London is one of the top 25 universities in the world (Times Higher Education 2009) and the fourth oldest in England. A research-led university based in the heart of London, King's has more than 21,000 students from nearly 140 countries, and more than 5,700 employees. King's is in the second phase of a £1 billion redevelopment programme which is transforming its estate.
King's has an outstanding reputation for providing world-class teaching and cutting-edge research. In the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise for British universities, 23 departments were ranked in the top quartile of British universities; over half of our academic staff work in departments that are in the top 10 per cent in the UK in their field and can thus be classed as world leading. The College is in the top seven UK universities for research earnings and has an overall annual income of nearly £450 million.
King's has a particularly distinguished reputation in the humanities, law, the sciences (including a wide range of health areas such as psychiatry, medicine and dentistry) and social sciences including international affairs. It has played a major role in many of the advances that have shaped modern life, such as the discovery of the structure of DNA and research that led to the development of radio, television, mobile phones and radar. It is the largest centre for the education of healthcare professionals in Europe; no university has more Medical Research Council Centres.
King's College London and Guy's and St Thomas', King's College Hospital and South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trusts are part of King's Health Partners. King's Health Partners Academic Health Sciences Centre (AHSC) is a pioneering global collaboration between one of the world's leading research-led universities and three of London's most successful NHS Foundation Trusts, including leading teaching hospitals and comprehensive mental health services. For more information, visit: www.kingshealthpartners.org.
Guy's & St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust
Guy's & St Thomas' provides around 850,000 patient contacts in acute and specialist hospital services every year. As one of the biggest NHS Trusts in the UK, it employs around 10,000 staff. The Trust works in partnership with the Schools of Medicine, Dentistry, Nursing and Biomedical Sciences of King's College London and other Higher Education Institutes to deliver high quality education and research. Website: www.guysandstthomas.nhs.uk Gemma Peers, Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust tel: 020 7188 5577 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Out of hours, please call our pager bureau on 0844 822 2888, ask for pager number 847704 and give the pager operator your message.
Kate Moore, Public Relations Officer (Health)
Public Relations Department
Tel: 020 7848 4334
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