Tygerberg successfully use unique technique to plug a leaky heart valve

PN Siyavuya Nolanda, PN Likho Gubelana, Dr Hellmuth Weich, Mr Nathan Yamey, PN Rita Plaatjies. Picture supplied

PN Siyavuya Nolanda, PN Likho Gubelana, Dr Hellmuth Weich, Mr Nathan Yamey, PN Rita Plaatjies. Picture supplied

Published Apr 15, 2024


A team of doctors at Tygerberg Hospital achieved a milestone after they successfully performed a Tootsie Roll, a unique procedure to repair an 86-year-old patient’s leaky heart valve.

Nathan Yamey, 86, underwent a minimal invasive heart valve replacement in 2023 due to a large blood leakage causing shortness of breath, and after unsuccessful conservative measures, a procedure involving a small plug was offered.

The procedure, which took place on April 10, 2024, is the first time the new treatment (the Tootsie Roll technique) was performed on this type of prosthetic heart valve.

Tygerberg Hospital spokesperson Laticia Pienaar said the new variation of a procedure, which is technically demanding and often unsuccessful, was published in March 2024 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, showing it can effectively treat transcatheter heart valve-related paravalvular leaks.

It has, however, not been tested in the specific type of THV Yamey has.

“This minimally invasive procedure is done through a thin catheter advanced through an artery in the groin up to the heart. A small tubular stent is then deployed in the defect and a plug developed to block arteries is deployed inside the tubular stent.

“This tube was nicknamed the Tootsie Roll after an American tubular chocolate bar that has been in production since 1907,” Pienaar said.

Cardiologist, Dr Hellmuth Weich said, “This is the first case where this type of technique was applied to this type of valve and the immediate result was a big success with the complete cessation of the leak.

“Although it is early days, we believe that the Tootsie roll technique will provide better results for this type of problem and may become our preferred method.’

“Mr Yamey was discharged the next day and is already looking forward to his first round of golf,” Weich said.

‘Previously, I was always tired and had no energy. Today, I can feel the difference. Thank you to the entire team that made this possible,’ said Mr Yamey .

Cape Argus