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OSAKA (Kyodo) A hospital in Nara Prefecture performed unnecessary heart operations on 135 people on welfare, Osaka and other municipal officials revealed Friday.

The operations were performed mainly by Fumio Yamamoto, former head of Yamamoto Hospital in the city of Yamatokoriyama, who has been convicted of fraud over medical service fees at the hospital, they said.

According to the Osaka municipal office, Yamamoto individually performed operations over a two-year period from July 2007 on 98 patients who were receiving welfare benefits from the city and whose medical fees are all paid out of public funds.

The operations were performed to prevent heart infarction by injecting contrast agents into the bodies through catheters and then inserting stents into heart blood vessels to expand them.

The municipal offices of Kyoto and Sakai, Osaka Prefecture, also conducted similar investigations, finding out the hospital conducted unnecessary operations on at least on another 37 patients from the two cities, officials said.

Doctors from the three cities examined video footage of the operations, which were automatically recorded in the surgical theaters, and reached the conclusion that those operations were not necessary.

The stent operations are necessary only if more than 75 percent of the inside of blood vessels are blocked.

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