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In This Issue:
The 1st and 1,000 minimally invasive aortic valve surgery patients were honored by Lawrence Cohn, MD at the celebration.
Eighty years ago this month, BWH predecessor the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital (PBBH) hosted the world’s first mitral heart valve repair. Dr. Elliot Carr Cutler performed the groundbreaking procedure on a 12-year-old girl. Cutler, a leading figure in cardiac surgery at the time, would later follow Harvey Cushing, MD as the second chief-of-surgery at PBBH.
Cushing referenced Cutler’s historic surgery in the 1923 PBBH Annual Report. He wrote, “...It is the credit of the Brigham Hospital that the first successful operation for mitral stenosis to be recorded has been the outcome of this [Cutler’s] work. Unless all signs fail, we are on the eve of a new surgical specialty of great promise—a specialty dealing with the chronic disorders of the heart...”
Today, “as a leader in cardiac surgery in Boston and across the country, BWH continues to forge new frontiers in all aspects of cardiac surgery, specifically the full range of procedures involving heart valve replacement and repair,” said Lawrence H. Cohn, MD, BWH’s chief of Cardiac Surgery, who also referenced Cutler’s fine work in a 1973 editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the first mitral valve repair. Cohn and colleague John J. Collins, Jr., MD wrote then, “...In this era of increasing complexity and expanded volume of cardiovascular operations, it is of interest to pause and examine the singular achievement of these pioneers [Cutler and assisting surgeon Samuel Levine, MD] in the early 1920’s before the development of the heart-lung machine, blood banks and other currently used sophisticated support facilities.”
BWH has continued to forge ahead in the area of cardiac surgery, recently completing its 1,000th minimally invasive valve surgery. One of perhaps only three major hospital centers in the nation that consistently performs these procedures. BWH completed its first minimally invasive valve surgery in 1996. Today, every cardiac surgeon at BWH performs this procedure.
A celebration to commemorate this momentous occasion was held on June 4 in the Anesthesia Conference Room at BWH. Cohn presided over the event, saying “In order to improve the outcome of valve repair and replacement, we knew we had to do something different. Minimally invasive valve surgery has reduced patients’ trauma, pain and need for blood transfusions, enabling faster recovery. Knowing BWH has now helped more than 1,000 patients with this procedure is truly something to celebrate.”