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Student set to rejoin school after complex surgery

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He was operated on for multiple aortic dissections:

When B. Bharath, a student in Visakhapatnam, was first diagnosed with a heart condition, doctors there told his father that there was only a 5% chance of survival. Diagnostic procedures had shown that his aorta — the body’s main blood vessel — had tears all along it, cutting off blood supply to the legs, and leaving Bharath unable to walk. Today, Bharath is all set to rejoin school in class XI on Monday, after a complex surgery at a Chennai hospital.

It began at the end of April this year, said Bharat’s father, B. Prasad Rao, a chemistry lecturer. Bharat complained of chest pain and was taken to a doctor. At first, a neurological problem was suspected and he was treated for it. But the pain did not go away, and finally, a CT angiogram revealed the problem. “The doctor was shocked. He said Bharath would need four stents to survive and there was only a 5% chance,” said Mr. Rao, breaking down, while speaking to the press on Saturday. The doctors told Mr. Rao to take Bharat to MIOT Hospital in Chennai, where he was admitted on May 17. “Here, doctors told me there was a 95% chance the surgery would be successful,” said Mr. Rao.

For doctors, it was a complex and challenging case. “Aortic dissections are rare in children. This is the youngest aortic dissection treated in the country. If left untreated, it can lead to death. Bharath had multiple aortic dissections in the descending aorta. Surgery was risky and the small size of his other blood vessels made it difficult to access the aorta for repair,” said cardiothoracic surgeon Vijit K. Cherian.

In a three-hour procedure, doctors made an incision on Bharath’s chest for a cloth graft, and created a pin hole in his leg, through which a guide wire was passed through the blood vessel. A catheter was then sent in through the chest incision with a stent to expand the true lumen and allow blood to pass through it normally, explained interventional radiologist K. Murali.

The procedure was successful, and in a few days Bharath was walking again. Doctors suspect a connective tissue disorder led to the problem. A few tears in the lower section of the aorta still remain, they said, but do not require intervention at present. “Aortic dissections often present as heart attacks. Lowered blood pressure in the leg is usually an indication that there is a dissection,” said Dr. Murali. Doctors are planning to publish this case in a medical journal.

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