IJN scores with first total aorta replacement surgery in Malaysia

IJN consultant cardiothoracic surgeon, Dr K Paneer Selvam.

KUALA LUMPUR: The National Heart Institute (IJN) has performed a total aorta replacement surgery successfully – the first such procedure in the country.

The procedure was carried out last week on a woman, 44, who suffered from thoracoabdominal aneurysm, or abnormal swelling of the aorta. She underwent two surgeries before suffering a severe swelling of the aorta.

IJN consultant cardiothoracic surgeon Dr K Paneer Selvam was quoted by The Sun as saying the aneurysm could cause the vessel to bulge and possibly rupture, adding that the risk of death from such a condition was as high as 80%.

He said repairing the aorta was a complicated process and some patients were left with the option of open surgery.

“However, with the expertise, facilities and capabilities available at IJN, we are able to utilise the latest techniques – from endovascular surgery to ‘frozen elephant trunk’ (FET) – to save more lives,” he told a press conference at IJN yesterday.

The FET is a procedure of hybrid aortic arch replacement which is used to repair aortic aneurysms.

Dr Paneer Selvam said, in the past, such patients would have had no hope. He said the synthetic aorta was expected to last a lifetime.

He said five in 100,000 people were at risk of suffering from an aneurysm and that the problem was due to old age, hypertension, high cholesterol, and smoking. It can also be congenital, or due to leading a sedentary lifestyle, or to motor accidents.

The Sun quoted IJN chief executive officer Dr Mohd Azhari Yakub as saying a patient would only need to undergo a single operation under the procedure.

Under the previous method, patients have to undergo two separate procedures, which could increase the risks on the patients, he said.

The surgery costs between RM60,000 and RM80,000.