Belgian world first: artificial heart valve under local anaesthetic


The Head of Medical Services at the General City Hospital (ASZ) in Aalst, Dr Michaël Rosseel, has successfully replaced a heart valve in an 82-year-old patient via the axillary artery and under local anaesthetic for the first time.

Previously, replacing a narrowed heart valve required serious open-heart surgery. This involved opening up the patient's sternum and temporarily stopping the heart. Later on, the femoral artery or the carotid artery, the aorta and the artery beneath the clavicle were also considered access routes. All of these interventions took place under general anaesthetic and they usually carried drawbacks. The elderly generally suffer from arteriosclerosis, which can cause the femoral artery to narrow.


The alternative operation, whereby the artificial heart valve is inserted via the armpit under local anaesthetic, will be of particular benefit to older people. It carries fewer risks and is less stressful for the body. Indeed, the 82-year-old patient from Aalst was able to return home after just two days.