Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine.
Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

February 29 2012

Purvi Ruiz
Phone: 281-737-2512

Methodist Willowbrook Hospital Performs First Heart Tumor Removal

(Houston, TX) — On February 29, 2012, Dr. Devinder Bhatia at Methodist Willowbrook Hospital performed the hospital´s first atrial myxoma resection, the removal of a noncancerous tumor from a patient´s heart.

According to the National Cancer Institute, tumors in the heart are extremely rare, with an incidence rate of 0.25 percent or less. While several different types of heart tumor have been identified, myxoma—an irregularly shaped, jellylike tumor—is the most common.

Heart tumors are difficult to diagnose because their symptoms closely resemble those of other conditions. Dr. Bhatia´s patient, a male in his 50s, had experienced no previous cardiovascular problems until recently, when he began fainting repeatedly. A thorough examination revealed a benign tumor, a myxoma, about the size of a lemon on the upper-left side of the patient´s heart.

Removing the tumor is a complex surgery in which the surgeon enters the chest cavity through the sternum. The patient is placed on a heart bypass machine and the surgical team uses ultrasound as a guide to the tumor. Because the mass is located inside the heart, the surgeon must open the heart itself to reach it, and it is vital that the tumor is removed intact. The defect is then closed with the patient´s own pericardium (the sac that encloses the heart).

The surgery at Willowbrook was a success and the patient is now doing well in recovery.

"I am very pleased to offer this type of highly specialized care in a community hospital like Methodist Willowbrook Hospital," says Dr. Bhatia. "In the past, these patients would have to be transferred to the medical center. We have demonstrated with our entire multidisciplinary team at Methodist Willowbrook Hospital that we can do these cases safely in the community setting."

"This surgery is an important milestone for Methodist Willowbrook´s growing cardiovascular program," notes Patricia Worley, RN, BSN, Director of Surgical Services for Methodist Willowbrook Hospital. "It demonstrates our ability to perform complex surgeries as well as the confidence we´ve earned in the community, which allows physicians to feel comfortable bringing their cases here."

The hospital is a not-for-profit, faith based hospital, which is part of The Methodist Hospital System. It has expanded its campus in Northwest Houston to serve the area in a more comprehensive way.

Methodist Willowbrook Hospital has received its chest pain and stroke accreditations, performs complex surgeries such as neurosurgery and open heart, and focuses on women and children in its new Women´s & Children´s Pavilion.

For more information on the comprehensive services available on the Methodist Willowbrook campus, please visit www.methodistwillowbrook.com. For a physician referral, call (281) 737-2500.