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Iraqi national finds cure for heart ailment in rare operation

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

An Iraqi national with a dwarf-like condition successfully underwent heart surgery at a city hospital in what the doctors claimed is a rare instance of its kind.

Doctors said that the 46-year-old Hussein Ali Radhi suffers from Achondroplasia, a genetic disorder which he acquired due to his mother's excessive consumption of chewing gum during her pregnancy.

The presence of Thalidomide in the chewing gums caused Hussein to develop the genetic problem, also known as the Seal Syndrome, doctors said.

"Considering his small body size, it was a challenge to reach his coronary artery. Usually angiography is done from right femoral artery that is in right groin or radial artery in the right wrist," said Dr Viveka Kumar, Director-Cardiac Cath Labs and senior consultant, Interventional Cardiology and Electrophysiology at Max Hospital, where Hussein underwent treatment.

Hussein's upper body structure is normal, but his legs are small, rendering him unable to walk. His arms are also shorter (half) than the normal arm length, depending on the height of the person. Even his legs are one-third the size for a normal adult.

Hussein had started feeling angina and breathlessness due to exertion. He consulted many doctors in Iraq but, due to his structural abnormality, they could not perform an angiography on him as the coronary artery was inaccessible.

He then turned to India and admitted himself at the super speciality hospital in Saket on May 31.

After diagnosis, doctors there found that his two arteries were blocked, leading to the pain and breathlessness. Since his arms were very small, the arteries were bent and tortuous, they said.

"So, we used the left hand, which was comparatively straighter than the right. Guide wires for angiography had to be bent to get to the femoral arteries for correct diagnosis. While a normal angiography takes 10 minutes and angioplasty takes 30-40 (min), for Hussein it took 20 minutes to do the angiography and 1.5-2 hours to perform the angioplasty.

"This is a first-of-its-kind (operation) in the literature of multi-vessel PTCA (Percutaneous Transluminal Coronary Angioplasty), in an Achondroplasia patient with fixed deformity and severe shortening of both upper and lower limbs," said Kumar.

Hussein was discharged on June 2. He is in hale and hearty condition and will get back to his hometown soon, doctors said.

First Published: Fri, June 06 2014. 18:27 IST