Tuesday, May 1, 2012

New heart valve treatment to help the sickest patients now available at The University of Kansas Hospital

The University of Kansas Hospital recently became part of an exclusive club; one of the few hospitals in the country offering the new Sapien transcatheter aortic heart valve.

Sapien is the first valve approved in the United States that doesn’t require open heart surgery to place in a patient’s chest.

The University of Kansas Hospital is one of the few approved to use this procedure to treat aortic stenosis, a fatal disease found in millions of seniors which causes narrowing of the aortic valve. Without an operation, most aortic stenosis sufferers die within two years.

With the Sapien valve, doctors can replace the bone saws and deep incisions of open heart surgery with a catheter the size of a pencil that can be snaked through an artery.

A major advantage of the Sapien valve is the procedure can be done on a patient whose own heart keeps beating and does not require cardio-pulmonary bypass. This is important for patients who are too old or too sick to qualify for traditional open-heart surgery.

“This is one of the most transformative developments I’ve seen in my career,” said Dr. Trip Zorn, a cardiac surgeon who’s leading the team that’s implanting the device into patients. “I think a lot of people would refer to this as a game changer.”

Edwards Lifesciences Corp., maker of the Sapien valve, says so far more than 15,000 patients around the world have received the Sapien valve. It was approved for use in the United States by the Food and Drug Administration in November, 2011.

Surgeons at The University of Kansas Hospital began implanting the device in February, 2012 and expect to treat 15 to 20 patients with the Sapien valve in the first year.