Newswise — Beverly, MA, March 11, 2014 – Surgeons in France have successfully replaced the aortic valve in two patients without opening the chest during surgery. The procedure, using totally endoscopic aortic valve replacement (TEAVR), shows potential for improving quality of life of heart patients by offering significantly reduced chest trauma. It is described in The Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, an official publication of the American Association for Thoracic Surgery.
Endoscopic surgery is already used by cardiovascular surgeons for procedures such as atrial septal defect repair and coronary artery bypass grafting. This leads to faster recovery time and less pain, which improves patients’ quality of life.
TEAVR had not been feasible previously because of the currently available designs of stented tissue valves. The recent advent of sutureless bioprostheses mounted on a compressible self-expanding nitinol (nickel titanium) stent, was one of the key factors enabling the surgical team to perform this procedure. Implantation required less than 45 minutes in either patient. Sutureless substitutes are not yet available for the other cardiac valves, like the mitral valve.
“In our institution, we began by adopting the mini-sternotomy technique, involving a small incision through the sternum, as routine. We then transitioned to the right mini-thoracotomy approach, involving a small incision through the thorax, first under direct view, then with an endoscopic camera. Finally we adopted a totally endoscopic technique,” explains lead author Marco Vola, MD, PhD, of the Department of Cardiovascular Surgery, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Saint-Etienne, France.
“It is important to note that when performing TEAVR, a quick and safe conversion to mini-thoracotomy under direct view can be made if circumstances demand. This would still offer significantly reduced chest trauma,” he adds.
In other fields, totally endoscopic surgery involved longer clamping and cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB) times during the learning curve. The investigators believe that clamping and CPB times were acceptable and that the learning curve could be shorter than reported for totally endoscopic coronary artery bypass grafting.
Enhancements such as endoscopic sizers, dedicated instruments for decalcification, and second-generation sutureless bioprostheses to simplify implantation, could improve the procedure further, Dr. Vola and his colleagues comment. Last but not least, surgical robots may offer additional benefits.
“These first procedures show that totally endoscopic sutureless aortic valve replacement is technically feasible. Further clinical experience and technical development are necessary to shorten operation times and to assess further the potential postoperative benefits of TEAVR,” concludes Vola.
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NOTES FOR EDITORS
“First human totally endoscopic aortic valve replacement: An early report,” by Marco Vola, MD, PhD; Jean-François Fuzellier, MD; Bertrand Chavent, MD; and Ambroise Duprey, MD (DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jtcvs.2013.10.010). The Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, Volume 147, Issue 3 (March 2014), published by Elsevier.
Full text of the article is available to credentialed journalists upon request; contact Nicole Baritot at +1 978-299-4520 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Reporters wishing to interview the authors should contact Marco Vola, MD, PhD, at +33 6 71 06 11 92 (mobile) or email@example.com or the St-Etienne University Hospital Press Office at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com).
ABOUT THE JOURNAL OF THORACIC AND CARDIOVASCULAR SURGERY
The Journal presents original, exclusive articles on conditions of the chest, heart, lungs, and great vessels where surgical intervention is indicated. An official publication of the American Association for Thoracic Surgery and the Western Thoracic Surgical Association, the journal focuses on techniques and developments in cardiac surgery, lung and esophageal surgeries, heart and lung transplantation, and other procedures. Published by Elsevier, it has a current Impact Factor of 3.526 (2012 Journal Citation Reports, © 2013 Thomson Reuters). www.jtcvsonline.org
ABOUT THE AMERICAN ASSOCIATION FOR THORACIC SURGERY (AATS)
The American Association for Thoracic Surgery (AATS) is an international organization of over 1,300 of the world’s foremost thoracic and cardiothoracic surgeons, representing 35 countries. AATS encourages and stimulates education and investigation into the areas of intrathoracic physiology, pathology and therapy. Founded in 1917 by a respected group of the last century’s earliest pioneers in the field of thoracic surgery, the AATS’ original mission was to “foster the evolution of an interest in surgery of the Thorax.”
One hundred years later, the AATS continues to be the premiere association among cardiothoracic surgeons. The purpose of the Association is the continual enhancement of the ability of cardiothoracic surgeons to provide the highest level of quality patient care. To this end, the AATS encourages, promotes, and stimulates the scientific investigation and study of cardiothoracic surgery. Visit www.aats.org.