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Last Updated: Thursday, 27 January, 2005, 09:26 GMT
New technique cuts heart damage
Consultant Michael Gaunt
Member of an award winning team consultant Michael Gaunt
Fewer patients will suffer heart damage during life-saving surgery thanks to a surgical procedure being pioneered at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge.

During operations for aortic aneurisms, clamps are used to halt blood flow and these put pressure on the heart.

The new technique clamps arteries to the legs, allowing the heart to adapt.

After 10 minutes a clamp is applied to a heart by now prepared for pressure. The number of patients suffering damage has fallen from 40% to 15%.

An aortic aneurism is a swollen blood vessel below the heart. If left untreated, it is likely to burst and kill.

But surgery to repair the artery is not without risk. Clamps halt the blood flow, putting pressure on the heart.

Long term consequences

Addenbrooke's consultant Michael Gaunt said: "Around 40% of patients suffer heart damage - they often survive the operation but it can have long term consequences for their survival.

"The new technique reduces the number of patients who suffer heart damage to just 15%. "So far 60 patients at Addenbrooke's have undergone this procedure. It will now be used by surgeons throughout the UK."

The team at Addenbrooke's has also won a prestigious award from the Vascular Society of Great Britain and Ireland.

At their annual meeting they picked up the society's highest research award, the Sol Cohen Founder's Prize, for their work.

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