A relatively unknown minimally invasive aortic valve replacement procedure made the news this week, thanks to Joe Rojas-Burke, writer for “The Oregonian” and Helen Warinsky, 95, who was told by doctors she was too old to have aortic valve replacement:
“Warinsky, a go-getter who began her retirement years by enrolling in college and earning a bachelor’s degree, would have none of that. ”I did my research,” she says. “I’m very big on the Internet.” She learned about an experimental procedure to replace the aortic valve by using instrumentsthreaded through an artery in the groin. The new type of valve wasn’t commercially available in the U.S., so Warinsky enrolled in a clinical trial. Her luck, she ended up among those randomly assigned to conventional treatments, not the group getting the new valve. Undeterred, Warinsky turned to Europe, where the valves have been widely available since 2007. In January 2010, Warinsky had her failing valve replaced at a hospital in Germany. Now her chest pains, shortness of breath, and fatigue are gone. She’s back doing aerobics and strength training twice a weak and enjoying life. “I didn’t want to wait because I didn’t think I’d still be around,” she says. Earlier this month, the valve’s manufacturer, Edwards Life Sciences, gained approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to market the device for use in people who are too sick for conventional surgery, which requires cutting open the chest and temporarily stopping the heart. With the new system, doctors don’t need to stop the heart. They use a long, wiry catheter with a balloon at the tip. Inflating the balloon opens the stiffened, failing valve, making room for an artificial one with leaflets made of tissue from cows’ hearts. “ read entire article
Minimally invasive aortic valve replacement procedure- heart surgery through groin in the USA?
According to the article, the procedure will be available by January/February 2012 in the United States at a similar cost of $60,000 that Helen Warinsky spent in Germany only, insurance can cover much of the costs.
The following article is worth reading by the New England Journal of Medicine
My hat’s off to Joe Rojas-Burke and Helen Warinsky for bringing publicity to this relatively unknown treatment. If you liked this article “Minimally invasive aortic valve replacement procedure- heart surgery through groin” and know someone who is a candidate for this treatment, please pass it to them as it may save their life!