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Nearly 5 million Americans are living with congestive heart failure and all its symptoms, including difficulty breathing and fluid retention. Although there is no cure for congestive heart failure, the physicians at Palmetto Health Heart Hospital have begun using a new surgical procedure to dramatically improve the quality of life for some of their patients.
Using surgical ventricular restoration (SVR), Palmetto Health Heart Hospital cardiovascular surgeons restore patients’ hearts to their former healthy spherical shape by using a patch made from the tissue surrounding a cow heart. The Heart Hospital was among the first in the country to have a surgeon trained in SVR and the first in South Carolina to perform the procedure.
Although not for everyone, SVR is a viable option for congestive heart failure patients who have experienced a heart attack and have a dilated left ventricle. In a normal healthy heart, the ventricle is shaped like a football. In patients with congestive heart failure, the ventricle is shaped like a basketball. SVR enables vascular surgeons to implant this spherical patch into the heart, restoring the shape of a healthy heart.
SVR is a surgical correction of congestive heart failure in advanced stages. The patients’ quality of life is dramatically increased. Their lifestyles totally change and they are physically able to do what they want to do. Researchers have seen cases where bed-ridden patients with stage three or four congestive heart failure were able to return to work after having SVR.
During this open-heart procedure, the surgical team monitors the patient’s brain oxygen levels through cerebral oximetry. By monitoring these levels, surgeons know if enough oxygen is reaching the brain. Typically, providing adequate oxygen during surgery decreases a patient’s stay in the hospital following surgery.
Seventy-seven-year-old Bill Amos of Columbia wasn’t aware he had heart disease until one fateful Sunday in church. He mentioned to his friend and physician Dr. Rodney Fitzgibbon that he had experienced a burning in his chest and wondered if that might have been a heart attack. He followed Fitzgibbon’s advice, who sent him to cardiologist Dr. Joe Hollins for further evaluation. After performing all the necessary diagnostic tests, Hollins deduced Amos was a candidate for the surgical ventricular restoration (SVR) procedure. His surgery was performed early in December 2002.
Amos’ recovery has been slow. But according to his wife of 51 years, Kathryn, this two-time retiree from the military and Columbia Police Department is tough.
Today, he’s clearly on the mend. “I cut the grass with my wife, just making sure to take breaks when I need them,” he says.
“They tell me it’ll take me about a year to get my stamina back, so I should be feeling great by Christmas.”