Specialists from all over Russia attend Heart to Heart’s Ebstein Symposium in Kaliningrad. L-R: Dr. Akatov, Kaliningrad pediatric cardiac surgeon; Dr. Vozdvizhenskaia, Samara cardiologist; (interpreting) Dr. Avramenko, Samara pediatric cardiac surgeon; Ms. Ozashvili, Heart to Heart interpreter from Moscow; Dr. Kuzmina-Krutetskaya, St. Petersburg adult cardiologist; Dr. Vyacheslav Belov, Kaliningrad chief pediatric cardiac surgeon.

This April, Heart to Heart has returned to the Kaliningrad Federal Center for Advanced Medical Technologies with a full pediatric team for our fourth surgical-educational mission since we began our collaboration in 2013. The local team led by Vyacheslav Belov, MD, is working jointly with a Heart to Heart team of medical volunteers led by world-renowned specialists surgeon Joseph Dearani and cardiologist Frank Cetta from the Mayo Clinic to diagnose, treat, and consult on patients with Ebstein anomaly, a rare congenital heart valve defect.

Patients with Ebstein anomaly have abnormal right ventricular musculature and an abnormal tricuspid valve. This week, the Heart to Heart team is focusing on teaching the Cone procedure, a specific type of surgical repair of this malformed valve.

Diagnosing Ebstein anomaly: Doctors Frank Cetta (center) and Joe Dearani (right) work with the local echosonographer to diagnose a young child as physicians from all over Russia look on.

Surgical outcomes for the Cone repair are good when patients are diagnosed and operated on at the appropriate time. Older patients with Ebstein anomaly are not uncommon, and all patients with the condition require lifelong cardiac follow-up care to monitor tricuspid valve function and the potential development of arrhythmias. For these complex patients, all aspects of patient care are important from diagnosis, to surgical repair, to post-operative care and follow up the Heart to Heart team has presented lectures covering all of these topics.

This week, the joint Heart to Heart-Kaliningrad team performed eight Cone repair surgeries, three diagnostic catheterizations, and several electrophysiology and TEE studies. Together, we have examined and consulted on over 60 patients ranging in age from one day to 33 years of age.

Working collaboratively with our Russian colleagues has been a pleasure. In addition to working side-by-side with the local Kaliningrad team, we are joined by our team of skilled medical interpreters and by pediatric cardiac specialists from our partner sites and from other hospitals all over Russia. Our symposium is intended to serve as a master class in Cone repair, with the objective that more Russian cardiac teams will begin performing these repairs. Over the next coming months and years, this transfer of knowledge will spread throughout Russia so that many more children and adults with Ebstein anomaly will receive this specialized life-saving cardiac care.