Patient Stories

“Within only a few weeks of the operation I was able to walk miles each day, uphill as well as on the flat.”

This is the most remarkable story of one of my patients who is a 33 year old echocardiographer who works at a local hospital. An echocardiographer uses ultrasound to take pictures of the heart, a similar scan to how we see babies in the womb. She awoke one morning with a feeling of heaviness in her left arm but just thought she had slept in an awkward position. When it did not pass, she performed a scan (echo) on herself and found a 2x3cm benign tumour in her left atrium (LA).

This was a type of tumour called a myxoma and 75% of these occur in the LA. They can cause symptoms related to either:

  • obstruction of blood flow through the heart such as shortness of breath and passing out (syncope)
  • embolization, where part of the tumour or attached clot breaks off and travels somewhere in the body, or
  • constitutional symptoms (e.g. fever, weight loss)

The feeling of arm heaviness may have been an embolic event and as such there was a degree of urgency to remove the tumour. BUT, she was getting married in two weeks and did not want to cancel the wedding. Therefore, the tumour had to be removed in such a way that she would have no visible scarring in her wedding dress and that she would be able to have the first dance.

Amy underwent a minimally invasive procedure using a 6cm incision hidden under her right breast. The tumour was completely removed (see below for video) and she went home 4 days later. She got married 2 weeks later and danced most of the night without a single visible scar in her wedding dress. The happy couple subsequently appeared in several national and local newspapers as the whole story was just the most remarkable and fortuitous series of events. Nine months later her scans are completely clear and they are expecting their first baby!

Read “Bridal joy of medic who spotted she had tumour in run-up to wedding” on Daily Express
Read “Hospital scanner operator spots tumour in her OWN heart during training session” on Daily Mirror