MRI used in heart valve operation

Surgeons at King's Health Partners Academic Health Sciences Center in London recently used MRI, rather than x-ray, to guide a procedure to widen a heart valve in a 6-year-old boy.

According to BBC News, the British youngster, who was born with pulmonary valve stenosis, is the first person in the world to have the procedure done with MRI.

The use of MRI in this application was made possible by a glass fiber insert, rather than a metal guidewire, that was developed at King's and is compatible with an MRI scanner. The glass fiber device contains small iron markers that can be seen on the MR image.

Surgeons insert the catheter into a blood vessel in the arm or groin and guide it to the heart under MRI visualization. A balloon at the tip of the catheter inflates to widen the narrowed valve.

According to the boy's mother, the surgery was a "great success."

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