Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital Innovative Therapy Replaces Tiny Heart Valves Without Open-Heart Surgery

Salt Lake City, UT — (ReleaseWire) — 03/04/2022 — An innovative new heart-valve replacement therapy at Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital has kids safely getting back to regular activities within a week, without open-heart surgery.

The Harmony Transcatheter Pulmonary Valve is an artificial heart valve made from a pig’s heart tissue attached to an expandable wire frame. It is guided to the heart through a tiny catheter placed in a child’s leg. Once in place, the wire frame expands in place of the diseased pulmonary heart valve and conforms precisely to each child’s unique heart anatomy.

“This approach to pulmonary valve replacement has dramatically transformed treatment for our patients living with congenital heart disease,” said Dr. Robert Gray, pediatric cardiologist at University of Utah Health and Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital, where he is director of the Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory.

“Transcatheter valve replacement is far less risky than open-heart surgery. Recovery time is shorter, and the prognosis is much better,” Dr. Gray said. “It truly is a leap forward in our Heart Center’s ability to help kids get back to doing the things they want to do.”

The Harmony Heart Valve helps children and adults who have chronic, severe pulmonary valve regurgitation, which is when blood leaks backward into the heart’s right lower chamber. The disease can lead to dilation and decreased function of the right ventricle and prevent children from exercising as usual or even doing routine activities, like climbing stairs, without shortness of breath.

The Harmony Heart Valve helps improve blood flow to the lungs without open-heart surgery, which has been required for patients with advanced pulmonary valve regurgitation.

The procedure requires a tiny incision in the upper leg, where a long, thin, flexible catheter containing the folded valve is placed into a vein. Surgeons at the Primary Children’s Heart Center’s Catheterization Lab gently thread the catheter to the heart, then place the Harmony valve at the diseased pulmonary valve, where it expands and adapts to the heart anatomy.

Kids receiving the Harmony Heart Valve typically go home after one night in the hospital, Dr. Gray said. Most kids return to normal activity within a week.

The procedure is drastically less invasive than open-heart surgery, which can require a one- to three-week hospital stay, and up to three months of recovery time for kids.

Experts at the Heart Center at Primary Children’s Hospital have helped 13 children live happier, healthier lives with the Harmony Heart Valve since the FDA approved the device for use last spring. Primary Children’s also was part of the Harmony Heart Valve clinical trials.

About Intermountain Healthcare
Primary Children’s Hospital is part of Intermountain Healthcare, a nonprofit system of 25 hospitals, 225 clinics, the Intermountain Medical Group with some 2,700 employed physicians and advanced care practitioners, a health plans division called SelectHealth, Homecare, and other health services. Located in Utah, Idaho, and Nevada, Intermountain is committed helping people live the healthiest lives possible by improving community health thru evidence-based best practices to consistently deliver high-quality outcomes at sustainable costs and is widely recognized as a leader in transforming healthcare. For updates, see https://intermountainhealthcare.org/news.

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Jennifer Toomer-Cook
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