Developing replacement heart valves

Theme Surgical and orthopaedic innovation

Workstream Novel surgical and orthopaedic techniques and devices

Status: This project is ongoing

The flow of blood inside the heart is controlled by valves. The largest of these valves, the aortic valve, separates the heart’s lower left chamber from the main blood vessels that provide the body with fresh blood. If the valve is not working as it should, the blood flow to the heart and body can be disrupted. This can cause problems, including difficulty breathing and walking. If the damage to the valve is serious enough, surgery is required to replace the faulty valve with a new one. Currently this happens using artificial valves made from metal or animal tissue.

The “Ozaki” procedure is a new type of surgery. During this procedure a surgeon repairs the aortic valve by using a small amount of the lining (pericardium) from around a patient’s heart. No artificial material or animal tissue is put in the patient’s body. This may reduce side effects. The new valve lasts longer than animal tissue valves and it doesn’t require patients to take blood thinning medication for life, as is the case with metal valves.

There are several different ways for surgeons to do this new procedure and the best technique is not yet known. During this project we will study how surgeons are introducing this new procedure into the NHS and how it is performed and evaluated.