“Babies born with certain types of congenital heart conditions not only need heart surgery after birth and as infants, but again years later as adults.
As a result of neonatal heart surgery, some may experience chronic leaky pulmonary valves and develop enlarged right hearts, which can cause heart failure and abnormal heart rhythms. These patients will often require pulmonary valve replacements and numerous open-heart surgeries throughout their lives.
Now, a new minimally invasive approach will allow some of these patients to reduce the risks and long recovery associated with recurring invasive surgeries.
University of Michigan Health C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital has become the first center in the state of Michigan and among a select few in the country to offer the Harmony transcatheter pulmonary valve, a breakthrough catheter-based treatment for patients with dysfunctional pulmonary valves.
“Open-heart surgery is the current standard of care for replacing the pulmonary valve in patients with severe pulmonary valve regurgitation,” said Mott pediatric cardiologist Jeffrey Zampi, M.D.
“Using our current technology we’re able to avoid surgical valve replacements in only a small percentage of congenital heart patients as they enter their adult years. This new method will allow us to significantly expand minimally invasive options to more patients with pulmonary valve disease.”
The procedure, which usually takes one to two hours, involves inserting the Harmony valve within a thin, hollow tube (catheter) into a vein in the groin or neck, which is then guided to the heart. The collapsed valve is then released in the region where the pulmonary valve typically is and begins to function immediately.
“These valves are expected to last as long as surgical valves, with patients likely to spend one night at the hospital compared to a week with traditional open heart surgery,” Zampi said. “This approach requires less anesthesia, helps us reduce surgery risks like bleeding complications and infections and gets patients back to resuming regular activities much more quickly.”
Among people who benefit from the procedure are those born with tetralogy of fallot, a rare condition caused by a combination of four heart defects including a hole in the heart that leads to inadequate blood flow to the lungs.
These patients often undergo at least one surgery as a baby, but eventually need more interventions to address a leaky pulmonary valve.
That was the case for Lauren Boyce, 28, who was the first patient to receive the Harmony valve in the state of Michigan at Mott in June.
Boyce, of Canton, underwent open heart surgery for tetralogy of fallot as a newborn. She routinely sees a cardiologist but hasn’t needed any interventions since then, she said.
Last winter, however, she began experiencing severe shortness of breath.
“I’ve been having a lot of trouble breathing and a lot more sleepiness and fatigue,” she said. “I definitely haven’t been able to be as active recently, not doing things I like to do like roller blading and bike riding. But it’s sometimes hard to breathe even when I’m walking and talking.”…..