India’s first non-operative procedure to replace the damaged aortic heart valve gives a ray of hope to elderly people unfit to undergo surgery.
Doctors at the Fortis Escorts Heart Institute recently performed the path-breaking procedure— percutaneous transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI) — on three people above 70 years of age, with damaged aortic heart valve, who were declared inoperable because of their age and underlying medical conditions such as lung or kidney problem, previous heart surgery etc.
“The conventional valve replacement surgery is a major surgery where the heart is exposed by cutting open the chest, but in this procedure, the artificial valve is mounted on a catheter and inserted thorough the femoral artery with a puncture in the groin. It’s more like an angioplasty that is performed in the cath lab under general anesthesia,” said Dr Ashok Seth, chairman, cardiac sciences at the hospital, who performed the procedure.
The procedure takes about two hours and the person can go home by the fourth day.
Open heart surgery to replace the heart valve remains the first preference of doctors, but for those who cannot be operated on, this technique is a boon.
However, the long-term efficacy of the artificial valve is still being analysed.
At present, the valve is known to last upto 15 years, and costs Rs 11 lakh, shooting the procedure cost to approximately Rs 15 lakh.
As the procedure is being done for the first time in the country, doctors had to seek special permission on compassionate use basis to perform it.
“I’m happy that I got it done here, otherwise would have had to go to the United States and get it done at an exorbitant price,” said PN Mehra, 80, who the doctors say would not have survived for more than a year, if the procedure had not been performed.
After the age of 75 years, 5% population is at the risk of developing a problem in their heart valve, out of which 35% are not suitable for surgery.
If not treated, 50% of them will not survive for more than two years.