Naradhiwas Rajanagarindra Heart Center, Songklanagarind Hospital, Faculty of Medicine, Prince of Songkla University, launched a new innovative cardiac catheterization technology that enables replacing heart valves by catheter without surgery, resulting in faster recovery, no complications and less hospitalization.
Dr. Sirichai Cheewatanakornku, Deputy Director of Naradhiwas Rajanagarindra Heart Center, pointed out that the increasing rate of heart disease concurs with more wide-spread health awareness, resulting in a higher number of patients that need to be examined and treated. To answer this increased demand in the southern region of Thailand, Prince of Songkla Hospital has established a heart disease center. The center treats both adult and pediatric patients, using progressive treatment with new technical innovations from abroad.
Naradhiwas Rajanagarindra Heart Center pioneered aortic valve replacement through catheterization, becoming the first hospital in the region that has performed this method. The team has studied and developed this treatment for about two years, then began treatment successfully in July 6, 2017, with 8 patients, aged 75-91 years old. While the method has been used extensively in foreign countries for the last 7-8 years, it has only recently been introduced in major hospitals in Bangkok.
Previously, heart valve surgery involved opening the chest, requiring hospitalization for a week. The development of cardiothoracic surgery through catheterization is similar to ballooning, where patients do not need surgery to open the chest, legs or throat. In this case, the artificial heart valve is inserted through the blood vessels instead.
There are several advantages to this treatment, including faster recovery without chest pain. It is also less prone to complications and does not require hospitalization. The treatment is suitable for patients undergoing other types of surgery, the elderly and other high-risk patients such as those affected by certain diseases. Additionally, the hospital’s Hybrid Surgery facility enables specialized procedures for TAVR (Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement), which can be used in an emergency, Dr. Sirichai Cheewatanakornku said.
However, a major issue is that the higher cost incurred by the new treatment using imported technology cannot be reimbursed through medical expenses. A hospital fund was set up to support Songklanagarind Hospital to alleviate this problem. In addition, public donations for heart disease treatment are accepted at the Prince of Songkla Hospital Foundation.