Canada doctor uses glue to aid open-heart recovery

Thu Nov 12, 2009 2:28pm EST
 
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TORONTO (Reuters) - A new surgical technique using glue to repair breastbones intentionally broken during open-heart surgery speeds up recovery time and is "substantially less painful" for patients, a University of Calgary scientist said on Thursday.

The standard practice in operating rooms is to sew the breastbone back together with wire after open-heart surgery. That procedure takes weeks to heal and often requires strong pain medication to withstand, said Dr. Paul Fedak, a cardiac surgeon at Foothills Medical Center in Calgary, Alberta, and a scientist at the university's faculty of medicine.

"We can now heal the breastbone in hours instead of weeks after open-heart surgery," Fedak, who pioneered the new procedure, said in a statement.

The procedure uses a special adhesive called "Kryptonite," made by Doctors Research Group Inc of Connecticut.

A study involving over 20 patients in Calgary found that people whose chests were glued back together were able to get back to full physical activity within days instead of the months it normally takes with the wire stitches.

Over 1 million open-heart surgeries are performed in the world each year by splitting the breastbone.

The study also found that pain and discomfort were substantially reduced by using the new procedure and that the use of pain-killers was reduced if not completely eliminated.

"I used to warn my open-heart surgery patients that they would feel like they had been hit by a truck during a long recovery period," Brent Mitchell, director of the Libin Cardiovascular Institute of Alberta and head of the Clinical Department of Cardiac Sciences at Alberta Health Services, said in a statement.

"I'm glad I don't have to say that any more."

Fedak is now training surgeons in other Canadian and European hospitals on the procedure.

(Reporting by John McCrank; editing by Rob Wilson)