Two companies are racing to take control of an emerging market in heart surgery, a market estimated to exceed $1.5 billion within the next six years. Currently, once a patient’s heart is too badly damaged for stent repair, the patient has little choice but to endure a painful procedure in which their sternum is “cracked” and their chest completely opened up. As you’d expect, open heart surgery requires a long recuperation time, and is rife with possible complications. Opening up someone’s chest is a necessary evil.
The new technology, percutaneous heart valves, are intended as aortic valve replacements and are implanted through catheters, just like stents. Here’s an illustration showing one of the valves being inserted:
Here’s a link to the New York Time article that covers this in detail.
The way I read the article, this is not a magic bullet, but it does paint an optimistic picture of the research being done to help minimize the need for invasive open chest surgery…