This week the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced its approval of Medtronic’sCoreValve system for “valve-in-valve” (VIV) replacement. According to the FDA press release, this represents the first transcatheter aortic valve replacement device approved for use in replacing a previously implanted artificial valve. The press release explained the need for replacing artificial valves over time:

Some patients whose own aortic valve failed to work properly in the past undergo open-heart surgery to replace the faulty valve with an artificial heart valve. Over time, artificial valves that are made of animal tissue wear out—becoming narrowed, leaky or both—and may need to be replaced again.

The press release notes that prior to this approval, the only option for patients needing to replace an artificial aortic valve was open heart surgery; however, some such patients may not be qualified candidates for open heart surgery.  The press release also stated that the CoreValve system can now provide a less invasive alternative for replacing artificial valves, thereby opening the option of subsequent valve replacements to a new category of patients. Medtronic provided data on the CoreValve Expanded Use Study Failed Bioprosthetic Surgical Valve on its website.

According to press releases, the CoreValve system also just received regulatory approval in Japan, in addition to previous regulatory approval in the U.S. and Europe.