UPMC surgeons performed the first round of procedures that replaces patent's aortic heart valve without having to perform open heart surgery. The hospital is one of 40 hospitals nation-wide participating in the Medtronic CoreValve® Clinical Trial evaluating a non-surgical procedure as an alternate to open-heart surgery for aortic stenosis patients. The procedure requires doctors to channel a catheter through a small opening in the femoral artery to reach the patent's heart, then the CoreValve is guided to the aortic valve where it self-expands to replace the diseased valve.
William Anderson, director of Interventional Cardiology at UPMC, says that this procedure is different than other methods. "The gold standard of therapy for aortic valve replacement is to do it through open heart surgery, and that's an operation that we've done for a long time and we're very familiar with. The disadvantage to it is that it is maximally invasive and it has a relatively long recuperation period."
Anderson says that the procedure has yet to show whether or not t will be a commercial success. He says that there are two other valve replacements being made available commercially relatively soon and we should see in the next 12 months if either is successful.
Aortic stenosis prevents the heart's aortic valve from properly opening which leads to less healthy blood flow from the aorta to the rest of the body. Approximately 300,000 people suffer from aortic stenosis worldwide, one third being deemed too high risk for open heart surgery.
The CorevValve System will be available commercially until the end of its clinical trial and approval of the FDA.