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MRI used successfully for heart valve operation

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Doctors have successfully used an MRI scan to widen a valve in a patient’s heart for the first time.

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Six-year-old Jack Walborn, from Alford, Lincolnshire, is recovering well from the procedure. He was born with the heart condition pulmonary valve stenosis and required a vavuloplasty to allow more blood flow by widening the valve.

The operation is usually carried out with the help of X-ray imaging to track the catheter’s progress through the body, but an MRI was used after experts from King’s Health Partners Academic Health Sciences Centre, in London, developed a new technique.

In the past, doctors used MRI for diagnostic scans, but were unable to do so for interventional treatment because the guide wires used for cardiac catheterisation were made of metal and became hot during the procedure.

Dr Aphrodite Tzifa, who is a clinical research fellow at King’s College London, which is 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.”

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