The first two patients, which underwent the non-surgical procedure in Maribor, were allowed to leave the hospital just a day after the operation. The quicker recovery time is not the only positive news for patients. The new method is also more suitable for those patients who would be more at risk if undergoing surgical procedures, as there is no need to stop the heart. Cardiologist Igor Balevski explains: "There is no need to open the chest. The heart looks as if it has stopped, and the valve inflates."
86 such procedures are planned in Slovenia for this year. But experts say there is a need for at least 200 such procedures. The head of cardiac surgery, Gorazd Košir, says Maribor plans to "perform at least 50 such procedures. With that we will partially help ease the burden on the heart surgery program. Patients here have to wait for a year or even more, which is unbearable and unacceptable."
The main reason why these procedures were not carried out in Maribor until now is the lack of funds, as the transcatheter aortic valve implantations are much more expensive than a normal surgical procedure. "The important criteria for us is what's best for the patients. We must realize that we're in a tertiary institution, there's no question about that... The financial investment in this would quickly pay off in treating complicated cases, in the chances of a patient to survive, etc. So, the state shouldn't have any doubts on this issue," said the UKC Medical director Matjaž Vogrin.
New such procedures are planned for the following weeks.