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Millennium Conference focusses on bypass surgery 

EHTESHAM SHAHID  
Newer emerging trends in the surgery of congenital heart defects, rheumatic heart valve diseases and the recent advances in the use of computers and robotics in the treatment of heart diseases were the leading issues discussed at the 46th annual conference of the Indian Association of Cardiovascular Thoracic Surgeons (IACTS), held in Mumbai from March 5-8, 2000. The conference was inaugurated by scientist Dr A P J Abdul Kalam, and attended by around 1,000 delegates from all over the world, including USA, Europe, UK, Australia and the Middle East countries.

The conference had a special session on Heart Transplants and the latest advances in Coronary Bypass Surgery or beating heart surgery. Coronary heart surgery is traditionally performed with a heart lung machine-the heart is stopped temporarily, but its function is well protected.

New techniques are being developed to perform bypass surgery without stopping the heart. A pioneer in this field, Dr V A Subramaniam, a leading cardiac surgeon of Indian origin in New York, delivered the keynote address. He also received an honorary fellowship of IACTS.

There was a special session on heart surgery of patients suffering from AIDS. Heart surgery has become a significant avenue for treatment of patients suffering from heart diseases. At present, India is performing the fourth largest number of heart surgeries in the world after USA, Germany and Brazil. The country has the highest number of patients suffering from heart diseases.

Most patients suffering from heart disease do not have enough resources to undergo expensive operations and hence financial constraints needs to be removed. This is not possible unless insurance cover is provided to such patients. This is undoubtedly going to take some time. The focus of attention now is to make these operations affordable for the common man. The operations become more expensive because of the costly equipment that they require and which needs to be imported.

The unique feature of the programme was to review the progress made in the last millennium and to look into the future. The focus of the conference was on Coronary Bypass Surgery.

Dr Sharad Pandey, chairman, organising committee of the conference, who is also the head of the Cardiovascular Surgery department at Nanavati Hospital, Mumbai, said that the conference would provide surgeons as well as research organisations a platform for the exchange of ideas. "The whole idea is to make technology related to heart surgery affordable to the common man," he said, adding that treatment should not be done on the basis of an individual's resources. He said that every citizen of the country should be in a position to afford the best possible surgery in this domain.

Dr Dev Saksena, head of the Cardiothoracic unit of Bombay Hospital, who is also a member of the organising committee of the conference, expressed his confidence that the use of computers and robotics would be possible very soon in India and that this would be a step in that direction. "The conference aims and plans to reach the maximum number of deserving patients, in the best possible way," Saksena added.

Copyright © 2000 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.

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