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19 November 2009

Celebration of 500th Pulmonary Endarterectomy Operation

Experts from Pulmonary Hypertension Centres from around Great Britain and Ireland will be gathering at Jesus College in Cambridge on 20th November to celebrate the 500th pulmonary endarterectomy operation (PEA).

Papworth is the only centre in the UK commissioned to undertake the complex PEA surgery which is used to treat patients with Chronic Thromboembolic  Pulmonary Hypertension. This disease occurs in approximately 2% of people after a pulmonary embolus (blood clot to the lungs).

The specialist surgery, which involves the patient being cooled to 20 degrees C on a heart lung machine and periods of arrested circulation, removes the obstructing inner lining of the lung arteries. The operation takes a whole day to perform.

Mr David Jenkins, Consultant Cardiothoracic surgeon who leads the national PEA programme said: “We now carry out two PEA operations every week at Papworth, and it is very rewarding to see patients who were extremely ill and previously struggled for breath, able to walk and enjoy their lives after the surgery. It is one of the biggest operations we perform, but results in a dramatic improvement in both quality of life and survival. Pulmonary hypertension is still under recognised and it is important to identify patients with this type of the disease that may benefit from surgery. The success of this programme has resulted in more patients from all over the UK being referred for PEA surgery and with our accumulated experience of over 500 operations, 95% of patients now survive this operation.“

Vonetta Flowerdew, aged 30 from Norfolk, was diagnosed with chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension last November. She underwent PEA surgery 17 weeks ago: “I have four-year-old twins and lived with the knowledge that thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension ends lives. I was very ill indeed when I came to Papworth and was delighted to be given the chance of surgery. I can now look forward to bringing up my children and living my life again. I can’t wait to do some of the simple things that other mothers do, like taking my children swimming or playing in the garden.”

Dr Joanna Pepke-Zaba, Clinical lead for the Pulmonary Hypertension (PH) service said:  “Fifteen years ago, PH was a diagnosis with no real treatment. The situation is far more positive now and treatments for all kinds of PH have improved beyond measure. For some types of PH, drugs can control the symptoms of the disease but surgery with PEA is offering a potential cure.”

Kay Yeowart from the Pulmonary Hypertension Association UK said
"PHA-UK are delighted this milestone has been reached and that so many patients have benefited from the surgical expertise synonymous with Papworth."

Over 70 delegates from all over the UK and Ireland will be attending the conference being held at Jesus College Cambridge. The conference is in two parts; the first will comprise of Papworth Hospital presentations, including the history of the PEA service in the UK, an overview of activity and outcome, and current surgical techniques. The second part will involve an interactive workshop.


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