'Balloon' surgery guinea pig doing well

PUBLISHED: 08:20 07 June 2006 | UPDATED: 10:58 22 October 2010

The first patient to undergo state-of-the-art surgery at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital returned home confident it had been a success.

The first patient to undergo state-of-the-art surgery at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital returned home yesterday, confident it had been a success.

Rodney Matthews received angioplasty - a treatment involving a small balloon being inserted into a blood vessel to open up blockages - on Monday.

Just 24 hours later the 54-year-old was recuperating at his home at Steepgreen Close, Norwich, hopeful that the narrowing of his arteries that had forced him to seek treatment had been rectified.

Until this month the nearest place he could have received the treatment was Papworth Hospital, Cambridgeshire.

Soon thousands of patients will be able to benefit after the service was launched in Norfolk.

Mr Matthews said: "I experienced some initial pain when the balloon was inserted, but other than that it was all straightforward and I'm told it went according to plan.

"I've got to have some follow-up treatment for the next six months or so, but it's a relief to have this out of the way.

"The best thing was to be able to have the treatment on my own doorstep rather than having to travel to another county. It's going to make a huge different for a lot of people in my situation."

Although Mr Matthews must rest until the start of the next week, he should be able to return to his job as a construction manager soon after.

He had initially sought advice after suffering chest pains, tests showed that one of the main arteries in his heart was narrowing and a small artery was only working at a percentage of what it should have been.

On Monday two others patients underwent angioplasty. Initially the service will only be able to deal with a quarter of the 1,000 cases from Norfolk every year, with the remainder still having to make the 75-mile journey to Papworth.

But as funds become available the service will be increased until it is fully operational in 2008.

Angioplasty is carried out in the same lab as the diagnostic angiogram procedure, as well as it being the location for fitting implantable defibrillators and pacemakers.

The hospital trust has earmarked £1m for a second lab and a public fund-raising appeal will be launched to help equip it.

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