Boy, 6, recovers after world-first MRI heart surgery

A SIX-year-old boy is recovering well after becoming the first person in the world to have a valve in his heart widened using an MRI scan rather than X-ray imaging.

Jack Walborn, from Alford, Lincolnshire, was born with pulmonary valve stenosis, a condition in which the outflow of blood from the right side of the heart is obstructed, restricting flow to the lungs.

It was decided he needed a valvuloplasty, an operation to widen the valve and allow greater blood flow.

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In this procedure, a cardiac catheter is inserted into a blood vessel in the arm or groin and then guided through the body to the heart. At the tip is a balloon which is gently inflated to widen the narrowed valve.

Traditionally, doctors would use X-ray imaging to track the progress of the catheter through the body. But a new technique has been developed by a team from King's Health Partners Academic Health Sciences Centre, in London, which uses MRI rather than X-ray.

Performing the catheterisation under the guidance of an MRI scan means patients are not exposed to the effects of radiation. The MRI scan also provides a clearer image as well as information about the different tissues in the body.

Jack's mother Kerry, 24, said: "At first I was unsure about allowing Jack to be the first person to have this operation, but once I had spoken to the doctors I felt much more at ease, as I knew he was in safe hands."

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