Patents and Heart Valve Surgery - I: Mechanical Valves
Faisal H. Cheema,
Alexander P. Kossar,
Valvular heart disease, inherited or acquired, affects more than 5 million Americans yearly. Whereas medical
treatment is beneficial in the initial stages of valvular heart disease, surgical correction provides symptomatic relief and
long-term survival benefits. Surgical options include either repair or replacement using mechanical or bio-prosthetic
valves. Patient age and the post-operative need for anticoagulation therapy are major determinants of the choice between
use of mechanical or bio-prosthetic valves. Since the first mechanical valves were made available several decades ago, the
incorporation of increasingly sophisticated materials and methodologies has led to substantial improvements in the valve
design, and has catalyzed a parallel increase in the amount of patents issued for these emerging technologies. In this paper,
we have chronologically reviewed such patents, briefly discussed various challenges that mechanical heart valve implementation
is faced with and finally reviewed some of the strategies employed to overcome such obstacles. An ideal
prosthetic heart valve would comprehensively mimic the natural hemodynamics and physiology of the native heart valve.
Additionally, such a valve would be easily implantable, associated with a minimal risk of thrombosis and thus need for
anti-coagulation, and with a proven long-term durability. With cutting edge technological advancements in the recent
times, the ongoing innovative and collaborative efforts of physicians, scientists, and engineers will not seize until an ideal
mechanical heart valve becomes a reality.
Keywords: Valvular heart disease, mechanical valves, patents, cardiothoracic surgery.
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