In a procedure at Epworth Richmond, a man with a hole in his heart has become the first person treated in a private hospital in Victoria treated using new ultrasound equipment.

The 27 year-old man had a hole between the upper chambers of his heart, known as a Patent Foraman Ovale. Everyone is born with this hole, but it usually closes naturally shortly after birth.

Doctors treated him using a new Intracardiac Echo catheter, which allows them to ‘see’ inside the heart using ultrasound, while they are performing cardiac procedures.

Sanjee de Silva, Nurse Unit Manager of the Cardiac Catheterisation Unit at Epworth Richmond, says this first case, with the new catheter, was life changing for a young man with a heart condition.

We had two patients in our first day using this new technology,” Mr de Silva said.

The initial case was a 27 year old man who had a hole in the heart that needed sealing. We used the catheter to locate the exact location of the hole and determine its size, enabling us to deploy the best closure devices from several available options.”

Previously, we would have used ultrasound, trans-oesophageal echocardiogram or fluoroscopic images to examine the issue. This new catheter enables a sophisticated and exact view so we can make an accurate clinical judgement. Until now, nothing like this has existed.”

The first procedure was conducted by cardiologist, Associate Prof Tony Walton.

The patient has done very well and is very grateful for the procedure,” A/Prof Walton said.

In future, we hope this technology will be more widely available but it will require funding of the catheter and training of the medical staff.