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September 29, 2009

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Hybrid surgery helps orphan

AN 11-month-old orphan underwent a successful heart operation thanks to a new surgical method called hybrid surgery at Shanghai Children's Medical Center yesterday.

The hybrid approach combines non-surgical intervention with a less drastic operation instead of a series of major surgeries that put patients at greater risk.

The surgery was also the result of cooperation by doctors specializing in cardiology and cardiac surgery. Those specializing in cardiology do not perform open-heart surgery and usually the two sides work separately.

Previously, patients with complicated syndromes would be transferred between the two departments, resulting in a longer treatment period, repeat checkups, higher costs and bigger risk.

Under the hybrid system, doctors from both cardiology branches discuss treatment options for each patient to find the best approach.

Wu Yunkang, who was abandoned at birth and adopted by Shanghai Children's Home, has become the first child in Shanghai with complicated heart disease to undergo hybrid surgery, said the hospital.

"The hybrid approach is mainly used on patients with complicated heart disease or newborns whose blood vessels are too thin for ordinary intervention," said Dr Liu Jinfen, president of Shanghai Children's Medical Center.

Under the traditional approach, Wu would have had to have at least two surgeries.

For children, especially newborns, the risk of open-heart surgery is considerable since they must depend on a heart-lung machine while doctors stop the heart to operate, doctors said.

Hybrid surgery is new here but was developed in the West in the 1990s. It provides a "non-open-heart approach." It does not require use of the heart-lung machine nor does it require stopping the heart, thus reducing the risk of neurological damage associated with the traditional approach.

In yesterday's surgery, Wu's chest was opened briefly to gain access to the heart. Doctors used the intervention method to seal up holes in the heart, then surgeons repaired abnormal blood vessels.


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