New technology lets doctors perform lower-risk procedures for cardio patients

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A few months ago, 78-year-old Edwarn Liebler thought he was out of options. Liebler’s heart was failing and he’d already had four surgeries to repair it.

“Eventually, I began to deteriorate again. Oh, I could hardly walk from one end of my house to the other,” Liebler said.

He had a condition called Tricuspid Valve Regurgitation. His right valve was leaking, causing blood to pump backwards. The problem was so bad, that another major surgery was out of the question.

But doctors at the Cleveland Clinic offered him one last hope—a new type of valve replacement under development.

Liebler became the first patient in the world to receive the device after the the FDA allowed it for compassionate use. Doctors implanted the valve through the jugular vein in his neck. The new valve replaced Liebler’s old, leaky valve.

This procedure only required a small incision in the neck. Recovery was only a few days in the hospital compared to at least ten with traditional open-heart surgery. For Liebler, it was a last-ditch effort that saved his life.

“I really feel quite good right now,” Liebler said.

Since Liebler’s procedure, the new device has been used on seven more patients. Right now, this technology is only being used in high-risk patients who are too sick for traditional surgery, but doctors hope to test it on heart patients who aren’t high-risk in the future.

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