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Children's Performs First Nonsurgical Heart Valve Replacement in Valley


In 1958, Valley Children’s Hospital performed its first open-heart surgery. Now, Children’s Hospital Central California was the first hospital in the valley to perform heart valve replacement  without open-heart surgery.

Doctors perform procedureCardiac Interventionist Dr. Paolo Aquino led the Children’s Hospital team in successfully implanting Melody Transcatheter Pulmonary Valves in two patients on July 1. Both patients went home July 2.

Congenital heart defects are the most common type of major birth defect.  Some infants are born with defects of their pulmonary valve, which is responsible for regulating the flow of blood into the lungs. These patients may require surgery to have a conduit or tube replace the pulmonary valve, but these devices don’t grow with the patient so multiple open-heart surgeries are needed to replace them over time.

The new Melody Transcatheter Pulmonary Valve is introduced into the heart through a catheter inserted into a vein in the patient’s leg during a heart catheterization. This procedure could save patients from multiple open-heart surgeries while allowing a better quality of life.

Patient with Doctor“The Melody Valve can reduce the need for open-heart surgery for many of our patients – surgery which may require longer recovery times than recovery from cardiac catheterization, “ said Dr. Aquino. “Being able to replace a valve without major surgery is an important breakthrough in preserving our patients’ health and ensuring they have the best quality of life possible. Less time in the hospital and recovering means that our patients can get back to doing what they do best – just being kids.”

The Melody Valve was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2010, and Children’s is the first hospital in the region with approval to use it in patients. The Melody Valve is a tissue valve that’s sewn inside of a wire stent and crimped onto an angioplasty balloon on the end of a catheter. The balloon is inflated and that deploys the valve.

The valve may delay the time until patients need surgery, hopefully decreasing the number of open-heart surgeries they need over a lifetime.

The entire procedure takes a few hours, and most patients return home after an overnight hospital stay. Patients can return to their normal routines in a matter of days.

Dr. Carl Owada, medical director of the cardiac catheterization lab, said, “The Willson Heart Center is actively following over 200 patients who eventually will need their pulmonary valves replaced. There are certain criteria for patients to meet and the Melody Valve is not for every patient. However, it’s very promising for many of our patients.”