The need for structural repairs of the heart can be due to congenital deformities or the progression of cardiac disease. These structural problems can be repaired during open-heart procedures requiring cardiopulmonary bypass, using minimally invasive surgical approaches (off-pump) or transcatheter delivery systems. Many procedures are undertaken to repair or replace cardiac valves, and this field is in the midst of intense research development. The potential to treat patients with valvular disease without the use of open-heart surgery will ultimately affect millions of individuals worldwide, improving the quality of life of these patients. The future of this field will likely see smaller delivery systems with greater intracardiac mobility, as well as repaired/ replacement valves that better mimic healthy heart function. For example, there are a number of devices available for transcatheter semi-lunar (aortic and pulmonary) valve replacements (see link on Valves at top of page).
Coronary Bypass: The formation of atherosclerotic plaques within the coronary arteries can cause major clinical consequences (e.g., decreased exercise tolerance, angina, and/or progressive heart disease) or actually be the direct cause of an acute heart attack. When clinicians identify blocked vessels or narrowed lumens (e.g., via an angiogram), then interventions are often recommended. This can be in the form of angioplasty (e.g., balloon vessel dilation), placement of coronary stents, and/or coronary bypass surgery. There are numerous devices in clinical use or in development today to provide such therapies.
Septal Closure Devices: Atrial or ventricular septal defects are congenital deficiencies in the heart walls separating systemic and pulmonary circulations within the heart. For example, in the case of an atrial defect, blood from the lungs flows through the defect and increases the volume of blood passing through the pulmonary arteries. In individuals living with such defects, permanent damage to pulmonary vasculatures can eventually occur. To correct such malformations, individuals can undergo a cardiac surgical procedure or be treated with interventional approaches such as catheter delivered technologies (septal closure devices).