As thoracic surgeons and industry representatives from all over gathered at the 2012 Society of Thoracic Surgeons meeting in Chicago last week, the transcatheter aortic valve implantation research was the belle of the ball.
Medtronic (NYSE:MDT) and Edwards Lifesciences (NYSE:EW) were on hand to discuss progress in their rival TAVI systems and Abiomed (NSDQ:ABMD) presented data from late breaking clinical trials of its Symphony implantable cardiac pump.
Medtronic and Edwards both released data from clinical studies that suggested that the transaortic approach to valve replacement may be better than the oft-preferred transapical approach.
The more direct transaortic approach is usually considered an alternative for patients who can’t undergo open-heart surgery and aren’t good candidates for the transfemoral or the transapical methods.
Dr. Vinayak Bapat of St. Thomas Hospital in London told STS meeting attendants that his hospital is one of only a few in Europe that puts the transaortic approach above the transapical.*
"The further away you are from the aorta, the more difficult it is," Dr. Neal Moat, who presented findings for Medtronic’s CoreValve, told heartwire." Transfemorally, you have a lot of curves, which gives a lag in the system." The transaortic approach, rather, is "in proximity to the valve with clear control of the device. It’s a bit like having a valve on a stick … with very precise control of the positioning of the device."
Edwards released additional data during the meeting suggesting that TAVI has a strong learning curve. In the Partner A arm of the company’s Sapien trials, the data showed that patients receiving transapical valve replacements early in the trial didn’t do as well as those in the continued-access program.
In non-TAVI news, which seemed in short supply at the conference, Abiomed touted clinical trial results for its minimally invasive Symphony partial circulatory device.
The company reviewed and analyzed its first-in-man experience with the pump, which occurred in December, marking an improvement in cardiac output and renal function as well as a shorter stay in the intensive care unit and early patient mobility post-implant, according to a press release.