Open-heart surgery is an incredibly dangerous, but in most cases absolutely necessary, surgical procedure.
But what if there were a way to repair aortic valves without undergoing this dangerous and invasive procedure?
A new minimally invasive procedure developed by surgeons allows them to place a new valve in through a tube into an artery, a method that allows surgeons to avoid the invasive and risky aspects of the traditional operation.
Medical professionals, after reading reports about this new nonsurgical alternative, are predicting that in the future it might lead to a vast decrease in the number of individuals who may need to undergo open-heart surgery. With the numbers of Americans who have bad aortic valves reaching into the hundreds of thousands, that is especially good news, as it means much less risky operations, and a better ability among doctors to quickly and effectively treat bad heart valves, which can worsen and stiffen with age.
The journey toward the creation and implementation of this new expandable valve began in 2011, when approval was given for a procedure that allowed said valve to be placed into a catheter, which was itself placed into a leg artery. The valve was from there guided up into the patient’s heart. Traditional open heart surgery, contrast, requires the breastbone to be cracked open and the heart itself to be stopped. There are numerous complications associated with this type of surgery – something that the new procedure hopes to address and eliminate.
Though strokes were found to be somewhat more common with the procedure, the overall mortality rate of the procedure was at least comparable to, if not better, than traditional open heart surgery.
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A new device to rival the original has also been produced, and has been shown to have an even lower mortality rate. The ability to put in new valves without the use of extensive surgery could be of tremendous benefit to the many thousands of patients who need valve replacements annually, and over time it is entirely possible that these sorts of open heart surgical procedures could be a thing of the past.
However much of a change that this type of nonsurgical valve replacement could bring to the field of medicine, at present it is primarily being used among those individuals who cannot or should not have traditional open-heart surgery. It is very likely that could change in the near future, however, as more and more becomes known about the long-term viability of this type of valve replacement and as statistics about the mortality of the procedure, both immediately following surgery and in the long term, become clear.
Many individuals in cardiovascular medicine look forward to the potential future applications of this procedure as more becomes known about it and the technology used with the procedure continues to be refined and developed. This advance in medicine is incredibly promising, and could be highly beneficial as it becomes a more common treatment for the hundreds of thousands in need of these surgeries – especially those who are already sensitive or who already have compromised health, such as older individuals.