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India's first artificial heart valve gets a makeover

An improved version of India's first indigenous artificial heart valve - Chitra - is now ready for clinical trials, reports Ramesh Babu.

india Updated: Feb 07, 2007 17:50 IST

An improved version of India's first indigenous artificial heart valve - Chitra - is now ready for clinical trials.

Developed by the premier neuro research centre, Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology (SCTIMST) at Thiruvananthapuram with TTK Healthcare Ltd, the new valve is cheaper than many cardiovascular prosthetic valves in the market.

"Animal trials have been successful. Clinical trials will start in a couple of months," the SCTIMST director Mohandas told the Hindustan Times.

The new Chitra valve will cost around Rs 20,000, compared to existing prices between Rs 35,000-80,000. It is designed for use in developing nations that have a large number of rheumatic heart patients who cannot afford costly heart valve replacements for damaged valves.

Since the permanent mechanical valve was first developed in 1990, about 25,000 valves have been implanted in patients in India and abroad. "Implanting the existing valve has a risk rate of 5-8 per cent," said a research team member. ``This problem is taken care of in the improved version."

Four valves regulate the flow of blood inside the heart. Problems in the valves strain the heart and can lead to heart failures. The solution is an artificial valve implanted surgically using a mechanical valve made from metal and plastic or a tissue valve.

The new Chitra valve has had quite a makeover. It is fully compatible with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI scans use magnetic and radio waves to take images of the body). To reduce risks, it has a titanium alloy coated with titanium nitrate coating, not a cobalt-based alloy used in the original. During surgery, the patient is connected to a heart-lung machine that supplies blood to the brain and body.

"Once commercial production of the improved version begins, India will join a club of just five nations where such valves are mass produced," said a scientist on the team.

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First Published: Feb 07, 2007 17:50 IST