For the first time in Israel, physicians from the Hadassah Medical Center Heart Institute, using special equipment ordered from abroad, successfully performed a catheterization to enlarge a heart valve in an eight-year-old girl who was having difficulty breathing due to rheumatoid arthritis.

The successful catheterization enabled the physicians to avoid surgery to replace the valve. Before this, the youngest person to undergo this procedure in Israel was 16 years old. The physician who first performed that catheterization was invited from Ha’emek Hospital in Afula to participate in the procedure. He, together with Prof. Azaria Rein, Director of Pediatric Cardiology at Hadassah, inserted a balloon through the girl’s groin to enlarge the valve in her heart, which allowed her to breathe normally. The girl recovered very quickly and returned home two days later.

Typically, it takes many more years for heart problems to develop as a result of this streptococcosis-induced rheumatoid arthritis, Prof. Chaim Lotan, head of Hadassah’s Heart Institute, explains. Therefore, the condition is rarely seen in children or young adults.