ROSLYN, N.Y., Jan. 11, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Newell Robinson, M.D., Chairman of the Department of Cardiothoracic & Vascular Surgery; George Petrossian, M.D., Director of Interventional Cardiovascular Procedures; Andrew Berke, M.D., interventional cardiologist; and Roberto Colangelo, M.D., cardiothoracic surgeon at St. Francis Hospital, The Heart Center® are part of the medical team that is testing a device that may offer new hope for patients with symptomatic, severe aortic stenosis.

St. Francis Hospital has been selected as one of 40 centers nationwide to assess the Medtronic CoreValve system for transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI), which has recently received conditional approval from the FDA for clinical trials.  St. Francis is one of the first hospitals in the U.S. to be activated as a site, and cardiologists have begun the process of implanting it in patients who are at high risk, or are ineligible, for open heart surgery.

Approximately 300,000 people worldwide (100,000 in the U.S.) have been diagnosed with the condition, which prevents the valve from opening completely, thereby preventing healthy blood flow from the aorta to the rest of the body.  But about one third of these patients are deemed at too high a risk for open heart surgery,(i) the only therapy with significant clinical effect that is currently available in the United States.  Although the CoreValve system has been implanted in 12,000 patients worldwide, it has not been available to patients in the U.S. until now.

The new valve replacement procedure channels a tube called a catheter with a prosthetic valve through the femoral artery to reach the heart.  The CoreValve System is designed with self-expandable technology, deploying the new valve inside the diseased aortic valve without open-heart surgery or surgical removal of the native valve.

"This is the most revolutionary device I've seen in my more than 20 years of being a card