Hasselt surgeon performs world first in keyhole valve replacement


Jessa Hospital heart surgeon Alaaddin Yilmaz has developed a technique for performing valve replacement surgery using tiny incisions, a world premiere

Open heart surgery thing of past, says doctor

Heart surgeon Alaaddin Yilmaz of Hasselt’s Jessa Hospital has become the first in the world to perform an aortic valve operation that involves cuts of only two centimetres. This keyhole surgery is usually performed with much larger incisions or by opening up a patient’s chest.

Keyhole surgery is now routinely used in heart bypass and valve replacement surgeries. The surgery requires the damaged valve to be either repaired or removed and replaced with a prosthetic valve.

Because of the complicated process, doctors tend to either open up a patient’s chest, requiring them to saw through the breastbone to reach the heart, or use keyhole surgery with incisions of five to eight centimetres long. Dr Yilmaz successfully replaced a valve making only one two-centimetre incision between two ribs as well as two additional smaller incisions.

Yilmaz, who carried out the procedure last week on a Limburg patient, developed the technique himself and even worked with an industry partner to develop the surgical instruments required. The procedure offers not only a major savings in costs associated with open heart surgery but also vastly improves the recovery period and the risk of complications.

“You heal as if you had cut your finger,” said Yilmaz. “Open heart surgeries are now outdated nonsense.”

According to Het Belang van Limburg, three more patients have already undergone the surgery at Jessa Hospital.

Photo: Alaaddin Yilmaz performing a valve replacement procedure using keyhole surgery
©Courtesy VRT