Doctors from the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania have achieved a breakthrough in treating 93-year-old Herbert Auspitz with a severe case of aortic valve stenosis. The condition is characterised by narrowing of the valve that controls blood flow from the heart and there is no way to prevent it and no drugs to treat it.
Doctors involved in the surgery used the recently approved TAVR technique by Federal Regulator wherein people with high risk from open-heart surgery are treated. The hour long operation involved inserting a new valve made from the lining of a cow's heart through a catheter and then opening it like an umbrella. Aortic valve stenosis is an illness of ageing and this makes it difficult for doctors to perform an open heart surgery as it poses a serious threat to the patient’s life.
The technique is now being tested on younger patients who are likely to develop this condition in the near future. This will eventually replace surgery for all age groups who need an aortic valve replacement. In the TAVR technique, a new valve is folded up and slipped into a catheter - a thin, flexible tube - which is then put into a blood vessel in the groin. When the catheter reaches the base of the aorta - the large blood vessel that carries blood from the heart to the rest of the body - doctors open a balloon that inflates the valve. The old narrowed valve remains but is pushed aside by the new. The technique is very complicated and if doctors are not careful then it can block coronary arteries which could lead to a major heart attack in the near future.