New valve implant brings hope to cardiac patients

New Delhi: In a cheering development for heart patients, a new technique to implant an artificial valve by a catheter instead of a surgery has been successfully performed in India.

For thousands of Indians living with aortic valve stenosis (AS), the "pathbreaking" valve implant technique would give them a fresh lease of life, said Ashok Seth, the chief of cardiology at Fortis Escorts Heart Institute, who led the team of doctors that successfully performed the procedure.

Announcing the breakthrough at a press conference, Seth said: "Trans-catheter Aortic Valve Implantation (TAVI) is a pathbreaking technique where an artificial valve can be implanted by a catheter in a simple procedure similar to angioplasty. We have been able to perform TAVI on three patients successfully."

According to Fortis experts, almost five percent people above 75 years of age develop AS where the aortic valve stops functioning properly.

"More than 30 percent people with AS can`t undergo open chest surgery due to old age and other complications. For such patients, TAVI will prove to be a fresh lease of life, without which they wouldn`t have life expectancy of more than one year," Seth told the reporters.

This is the first time that TAVI has been performed in the country, claimed Seth.

"The valve, made animal heart tissue, is fitted in a mesh of Nitinol, an alloy. It is installed by a six mm thin catheter which is passed into the femoral artery through a small incision in groin. The catheter then travels all the way to aortic valve which is first dilated by ballooning, and delivers the stent and valve which then expand and
fit in place," he said.

Nitinol is a unique alloy of Titanium and Nickel which remains soft in cold water but as soon as it warms up to body temperature, it gets very hard, allowing the valve to stay in place securely.

According to Seth, at Rs.15 lakh, TAVI is a costly procedure in India. While there was a risk of stroke in the recipients, the implant was their only chance for survival and gave them a lease of almost 10 years, the doctor said.

"The procedure was over in two hours and the patients were back on their feet within four days," he claimed.

The three patients, Prithvi Nath Mehra, 72, G.P. Moorjani, 80 and Aklo Devi, 71, were doing fine after the operation. Mehra and Aklo Devi were present at the event.


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