The Hospital Internacional de Colombia performed the first fetal aortic valve surgery in Colombia.

  • The first fetal heart surgery performed at the HIC Instituto Cardiovascular was a success, a medical milestone that marks the history of maternal-fetal health care in Colombia.
  • Maricela Torres, beneficiary of the procedure, faced a difficult situation that required an urgent intervention to save the life of her baby Angel Mateo.
Bucaramanga, October 2023. In an unexpected intervention, the Cardiovascular Institute of HIC successfully performed the first cardiac surgery on a 32-week-old fetus with a complex congenital heart disease: severe aortic stenosis. This procedure provided a new opportunity for life to the 20-year-old mother and her future son, Angel Mateo, for whom the prognosis was discouraging, and the operation presented a challenge. 

Maricela Torres mentioned that during the ultrasound performed in Abrego, Norte de Santander, the attending physician informed her that it was a complicated case and that the baby had no chance. However, she sought a second opinion in Bucaramanga, ultimately leading her to HIC Instituto Cardiovascular.

"The greatest joy is because this is a desired child. My partner and I decided to become pregnant, and when I felt that I had no chance, they told me that I did, and that brought me immense joy," added Maricela. 

This procedure marks a significant milestone for HIC - Instituto Cardiovascular, as it is the first time in the country that this type of surgery, called fetal aortic valvuloplasty with a percutaneous balloon, has been performed. The procedure was carried out with the support and guidance of Dr. Rubén Quintero, a pioneer in the field of Fetal Therapy and Medicine, and a multidisciplinary team of specialists, including Merly Muñoz, leader of the Fetal Surgery program; Carlos Riaño, head of the Gynecobstetrics and Perinatology unit; Mónica Beltrán, perinatologist; Justo Santiago, Pediatric Cardiologist, and Interventional Cardiologist; Yudisay Molina Mora, head of the Pediatric Echocardiography Laboratory; Claudia Flórez, Chief Physician of the Congenital and Pediatric Heart Disease Center, and Juan José Rivero, Cardiovascular Anesthesiologist.


Maricela shares her feelings: 'It's hard to understand and comprehend because it's the first procedure they've done in Colombia, in utero. I'm the first mother they've operated on here. It was difficult to accept that decision because there could have been many complications for both the child and me. I am happy because they gave me this opportunity.'

About the procedure

Fetal aortic valvuloplasty is a high-risk intervention that provides multiple benefits to patients since it prevents premature birth and increases the survival rate, improving heart function.

According to Dr. Justo Santiago, pediatric cardiologist and Interventional Cardiologist of the HIC Instituto Cardiovascular, the surgery consists of making an approach through a puncture in the mother's abdomen, crossing with a needle the wall of the uterus, the fetal chest wall, and the cardiac muscle until reaching the diseased aortic valve. In Angel Mateo's case, the valve was almost totally occluded. After several percutaneous balloon dilatations, the aortic valve of the fetus was improved, thus allowing the baby's heart to continue growing and reach full term. 

Fetal Cardiology and Surgery Team - HIC Instituto Cardiovascular 

This medical achievement is the result of over 35 years of experience at HIC Instituto Cardiovascular as a leader in cardiovascular care and treatment in Colombia. It demonstrates that patients can be treated from intrauterine development to old age. The institution boasts an exceptional team of professionals in Maternal Fetal Service, Fetal Surgery, Cardiology, and Congenital and Pediatric Cardiopathies, representing a significant advancement for the institution, enabling it to continue providing high-level services to the community and taking care of lives.

Furthermore, it is an opportunity for pregnant women to monitor their health and that of their baby through tests such as screening ultrasounds, detailed anatomy scans, fetal echocardiography, and neurosonography. These tests enable the timely identification of anomalies in the heart and other organs.