Cow Valve Heart Implant Hailed as Breakthrough

Lata Jain

A new type of heart valve made with cow tissue and inserted by catheter was hailed, as a major breakthrough that could eliminate the need for open heart surgery in some patients, doctors said

In a rare major medical procedure an 81-year-old woman in Chennai was given a new lease of life after doctors replaced her leaking heart valve with one made from a cow’s heart through a catheter. The method is aimed at high-risk patients who suffer from severe aortic stenosis, a clogged valve that impedes the pathway of oxygen-rich blood by making the heart work harder to pump blood through a narrowing opening.

The technique of inserting the bioprosthetic valve through a tube in the artery is less invasive than conventional surgery and showed similar survival rates to conventional surgery, but also raised the risk of stroke and other major heart complications.

According to reports, the patient from Hyderabad was suffering from a severe heart disease. She had undergone a valve replacement surgery eleven years ago but her condition worsened in the first month after the surgery. The valves narrowed over time. Reports also suggest that the woman had undergone treatment for breast cancer a few years ago. She had undergone radiotherapy and this had caused tissue in her chest to get stuck.

Doctors in Chennai have successfully implanted a valve made from a cow’s heart inside this 81-year-old woman. A team of four doctors operated at her for three hours.

 Xenotransplantation as the process is called has brought in a new hope in the medical fraternity. Xenotransplantation is the transplantation of living cells, tissues or organs from one species to another.

The surgery is being hailed as a breakthrough after scientists successfully grafted modified a pig’s heart into baboons last year says Dr. Anantharaman, senior cardiologist who carried out the surgery.

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