Jim (58), from California, was on a business trip to India. On reaching Bengaluru, the fever that had subsided before his travel flared up again and he was brought to a private hospital in Sarjapura road. He was diagnosed with aortic valve disease.
Jim had been aware of his condition but never affected by it. In fact, he had participated in a marathon just a month ago.
Dr Joseph Xavier, the chief cardiac surgeon, Columbia Asia Hospital, Sarjapura Road performed the complicated surgery. “Due to significant aortic valve incompetence, blood that was being pumped out of the heart was flowing back into it, putting it under severe strain. Blood culture reports indicated that bacteria had already started developing in the blood. There was a fluid collection in his lungs and the other organs weren’t receiving getting enough blood, resulting in gradual failure of the kidneys and liver,” explained Dr Xavier.
The doctors found that the infection was destroying the valve and the heart muscles and the antibiotics would not clear the infection unless the source within the heart was removed.
Dr Xavier said, “This meant an open heart surgery to replace the infected and destroyed valve and its surrounding tissue. This was a tough call for the cardiac surgical team. If they waited to see whether the antibiotics worked, the kidney and liver failure would worsen making the post-surgery recovery difficult. But there was a good chance that after the operation, the replaced valve could get infected.”
However, the chief cardiac surgeon felt it’s better to ward of the post-operative organ failure and take a chance with a recurrence of infection. The decision paid off, Jim had a successful operation.
Dr Xavier added, “It was a difficult decision to operate on active infection of the heart valve as the tissue inside was in a state like butter, and it is very difficult to fix the valve in such cases. Also, the possibility of the implanted valve getting infected is very high in such a situation. The failing organs like kidney and liver because of the bloodstream infection were an added risk. Fortunately, after the operation, the patient recovered quickly and went home on the 12th day.”