Surgeons at the VA Medical Center in Washington, D.C., have begun using a new class of biological resilient tissue valve. It’s believed to be a dramatic improvement over traditional bioprosthetic (tissue) valves and mechanical valves for certain patients.
Dr. Gregory Trachiotis is pictured above with one of two new surgical valves: the sutureless (Intuity) valve that can have advantages in Veterans who are older, need other complex cardiac procedures and potentially shorter operative times for aortic valve stenosis.
The only medication needed is a baby aspirin taken daily.
Trachiotis is chief, Cardiothoracic Surgery and director of the Heart Center at the DC VA medical center.
The other valve, Inspiris, can be suited for the more active and younger Veteran with aortic valve diseases. The DC VAMC was the first VA in the country to implant these valves.
The new class of biological resilient tissue valve is for patients with heart failure and those suffering from fatigue or shortness of breath with exercise and who have passed out because the aortic valve is tight. Prior to treatment, the proper decision for any valve replacement therapy is always discussed with a heart valve team.
The new design treatment option has a preservation process that enhances the longevity and durability of the valve. It’s especially promising for youthful energetic Veterans with aortic valve disorders. The current engineered bioprosthetic valve in a 50-60-year-old may last 20 years.
Valve is longer lasting and resists calcium buildup
Trachiotis: “The new class of resilient valve is especially beneficial to our younger patients who want to maintain an active lifestyle.”
The new biological valve is longer lasting and resists calcium build-up, eliminating the need for blood thinners. For the younger patient, if the valve fails as they age, it is uniquely designed to facilitate a trans-catheter valve in valve (TAVR) procedure, reducing the likelihood of a major cardiac operation. The only medication needed is a baby aspirin taken daily.
Younger patients with the alternative mechanical valve are required to take blood-thinning medication for life to prevent thrombus or clot formation. Mechanical valves also are not suited for a (TAVR) procedure should the valves ever fail.
Over 25 successful Veteran surgeries so far
The new therapy has been used in more than 25 patients so far with excellent results. The DC VA is the first VA in the nation to use the valve and is an early adopter of a suture-less valve which reduces operation time. It also facilitates small incision surgery and is good for patients requiring other cardiac procedures at the same time
Employing the latest advancements in heart valve replacements demonstrates VA’s commitment to continued innovation and providing the best possible care for Veterans.
Sarah H. Cox is a public affairs specialist at the Washington, D.C., VA Medical Center.