A less invasive operation to replace an ailing heart valve was performed for the first time in the United States Monday – and it happened at a Minnesota hospital, using a Minnesota product.
In a press release, Tendyne Holdings Inc. – the Roseville-based company that made the device – said a patient at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis became the first in the country to have its bioprosthetic valve implanted, using only a small cut and a long tube.
Why is this kind of a big deal?
Traditionally, replacing the mitral valve required more extensive procedures, outlined by the National Institute of Health.
There's one that requires a 2- to 3-inch long cut near your breast bone. The surgeon then goes in, separates the muscles, and makes a small cut into the heart to get to the valve.
There's another option, which requires a handful of small cuts or holes in the chest, which small cameras and other equipment are put into in order to get to the heart.
What does this new device allow for?
The new implant – set using an operation called trans-catheter mitral valve replacement – lets a surgeon replace the valve using one small incision, attached to the end of a long tube that snakes through the body.
What this means for the patient: The heart doesn't need to be stopped during the operation, and no large incisions are required.
"The Tendyne Bioprosthetic Mitral Valve was implanted in a beating heart, without open heart surgery, without cardiopulmonary bypass," Dr. R. Saeid Farivar, one of the surgeons in the procedure, said in a news release.
That's important, because the traditional methods can be "traumatic" for some patients, the Star Tribune says, proving especially risky and taxing for the elderly or those with added medical conditions.
Boiled down: Recovering from one small cut is a lot easier than recovering from a large cut through the chest.
Tendyne's new device – which started clinical trials in a handful of overseas patients last December – is used to fix mitral valve regurgitation.
According to the Nationl Institute of Heath's Medline Plus website, it's the most common type of heart valve disorder.
There are four chambers in the human heart, and for blood to get from one to another it has to pass through valves, which open and close to push the correct amount through.
The mitral valve is located on the left side of the heart.
Mitral valve regurgitation – which is what this new procedure aims to fix – is when that valve doesn't close all the way, and blood flows backward, into where it's supposed to be leaving from.
"This cuts down on the amount of blood that flows to the rest of the body. As a result, the heart may try to pump harder. This may lead to congestive heart failure."