(RxWiki News) For the first time in the United States, doctors have replaced a failing heart valve just outside the heart, rather than inside it.
The surgery, called a transcatheter tricuspid valve replacement, was performed at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, MI, July 31.
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The tricuspid valve, along with three other valves, regulates blood flow in the heart. Because of the tricuspid valve's location in the heart, open-heart surgery is often the only way to replace it.
Before the surgery, the doctors built a replica of the patient's heart using 3-D modeling. This allowed them to find out what size the new valve needed to be and how to conduct the procedure.
The surgeons performed the minimally invasive surgery by threading a tube through a vein in the groin and using it to place the new valve just outside the heart near the inferior vena cava. The inferior vena cava is a vein that brings blood into the heart.
The newly replaced valve prevented blood from leaking and pooling into the vasculature of the abdomen and lower body.
According to a press release, the patient was a Detroit woman who, due to previous medical procedures, doctors had turned down for open-heart surgery to replace her failing heart valve.
The recent experimental surgery offered her an option that didn't involve opening her heart. Individuals in the patient's situation may now have another option, said William O'Neill, MD, lead physician for the procedure, in a press release.
“There are a lot of people who have damage of the tricuspid valve, and the surgery is risky, so doctors just try to give them medical therapy,” Dr. O'Neill said in the press release. “They get a lot of swelling and severe liver congestion. They’re in and out of the hospital, and it really causes a lot of morbidity. So there’s a huge, unmet clinical need. Individuals with this type of valve problem now have another option.”