KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT)--Is someone in your family on blood thinners? Do they have a risk for stroke? If you answered yes, someone you know could be a candidate for a new breakthrough procedure. A heart surgery done only in Knoxville at Turkey Creek Medical Center could save thousands of lives.
Stanley Cutshall takes a look at the fishing pole looking tool Dr. Malcolm Foster uses to reduce risks for blood clots and stroke.
Patient Stanley Cutshall says, "I had a flutter in my heart. It was skipping beats."
X-ray die shows his left atrium and an appendage on his heart. Dr. Foster says, "The upper chamber squeezes and that appendage squeezes, but for people with atrial affibrillation it just vibrates and collects the blood. That's why a blood clot can form in the appendage."
Dr. Foster went to Atlanta to learn this incision-free procedure to keep blood out of the appendage. He's the first in Tennessee to do this.
Here's how it works. Using two catheters, one in the groin area and another below the breast bone, Dr. Foster stitches the appendage so no blood would flow into it. Dr. Foster says, "I was respectful and cautious and a little bit nervous because it was a new procedure."
It went well, and now Stanley is up and walking around two weeks after heart surgery. Stanley says, "I hurt for a couple days, but nothing like the trauma that you would have if they cut your chest open. Maybe lots of people won't need open heart surgery if this works."
A big improvement time over open heart surgery which takes 6-8 weeks or more.
The good thing about this could get patients off blood thinners, and it only takes two hours. So if you're on blood thinners, have a high risk for stroke, have arrhythmia of the heart and a risk for bleeding, this could be the procedure for you. Contact your doctor to find out.