Children’s Hospital fixes heart valves without surgery

Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia is among a handful of hospitals in the country that have adopted a new approach to fixing the valves of people born with congenital defects. Since March, Children’s has used minimally invasive techniques to replace failing pulmonary heart valves in five patients aged 9 to 45. The valves control the flow of blood between the heart and lungs.

The hospital’s cardiac center has been using a device that can be implanted with a minimally invasive procedure through the patient’s blood vessels. The Melody Transcatheter(CQ?) Pulmonary Valve was made available in the U.S. in January by the Food and Drug Administration. Children’s surgeons delivered the replacement valve using a catheter through either the jugular vein or the femoral artery in the leg.

The approach enables patients to avoid full blown open heart surgery, which involves cracking open the chest and stopping the heart while the valve is replaced or repaired.

Because children born with the pulmonary valve defect get an initial device early in life, often within 30 days of birth, they require a replacement as they grow.

“There has been a long-standing need to identify a non-surgical option for patients with failed right ventricle to pulmonary artery conduits,” said Jonathan Rome, M.D., director of cardiac catheterization at Children’s Hospital. “These patients require several surgical interventions during their lifetime and the new procedure allows them to delay open-heart surgery for several years.”

The valve is made by Medtronic, Inc. of Minneapolis, Minn.

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