Replacing Heart Valves Without Open Cardiac Surgery
Transcatheter valves are actually in the majority of recent valve replacement procedures today. This can be achieved without open heart surgery. Coronary intervention involves opening the coronary arteries on the the surface of the heart, which has been done for years. Two-thirds of the arteries open after receiving various pharmaceuticals, leaving a third of the arteries still to be opened up. The cardiologists took heart attack patients to the catheterization lab to try and open up the artery. Opening up the artery mechanically turned out to be the best treatment for acute heart attacks.
Additionally, many varieties of holes in the heart can be closed by various methods. Also, large arteries such as the aortic and pulmonary arteries can be opened with a stent. And, of course heart valves can be implanted without cardiac surgery. In 2002, the first heart valve in a human being was implanted without cardiac surgery. In Germany, aortic valve surgery is in the minority, and transcatheter valves, done by the catheter valve is in the majority. In the future, in other European countries, the majority of valves will be replaced by transcatheter valves rather than an incision in the chest. An acute myocardial infarction is another name for a heart attack. When the patient comes to the hospital with a heart attack, he’s taken to the cath lab and the physician goes through the wrist artery or the groin artery to get a picture of the artery that’s not blocked. The task is then to locate the coronary artery that’s blocked and to get blood flow to the heart again. Unlike the brain, the heart can take a little bit of ischemia. The heart muscle can survive up to a couple of hours without much oxygen; unlike the brain, which begins to die within two to three minutes without oxygen. A balloon is used to enlarge the artery, followed by the insertion of a metal mesh, called a stent. The entire procedure only takes two to three hours and the patient can go home the following day.
Structural heart conditions can be treated without open heart surgery. There exist three common holes in the heart. An ASD or Atrial Septal Defect is a hole between the two collecting chambers of the heart. A PFO or Patent Foramen Ovale is a much smaller hole between the two collecting chambers of the heart. A VSD or Ventricle Septal Defect is a hole between the two pumping chambers of the heart;i.e., the right ventricle and the left ventricle of the heart. The hole in the heart can now be closed without the patient even staying overnight. The hole can be crossed with a wire; and a mushroom shaped device fills the opening; and the patient only needs to take blood thinners for six months. The aorta can also be repaired with covered stents without the possibilities of failures of open heart surgery.