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India's First 3-D Printed Heart Valve: When You Need Heart Valve Replacement Surgery

India's First 3-D Printed Heart Valve: When You Need Heart Valve Replacement Surgery
Dr Sanjay Cherian showing India's First 3-D Printed Heart Valve

This first 'Made in India' 3-D printed heart valve is designed and developed by a Chennai-based heart surgeon.

Written by Longjam Dineshwori |Published : August 19, 2021 2:24 PM IST

Our heart has four valves that keep blood moving through the heart in the right direction. Heart valve disorders occur when one or more valves become damaged or diseased and do not work the way they should. If the heart valve disorder goes untreated, it may lead to conditions like strokes, heart attacks, and blood clots. The damaged or diseased valves may need to be surgically repaired or replaced based on the patient's symptoms and the overall condition of his heart. Through open-heart surgery, the doctor may repair the diseased valve using a ring to support the damaged valve, or the entire valve may be removed and replaced by an artificial valve.

In a groundbreaking development, a Chennai-based heart surgeon has designed and developed India's first 3-D printed heart valve, giving hope to several thousands of patients requiring heart valve replacement surgery every year.

Advantages of the new 3-D printed heart valve

Most currently available artificial valves are either made of metal components (mechanical), or from animal tissues (bioprosthetic), and each one has its own disadvantages or complications, such as the risk of blood clot formation, valve failure due to degeneration, valve infection, the need for long-term blood thinner medications, etc.

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The new 3D printed heart valve can overcome these problems, said the developer Dr Sanjay Cherian, who is the Vice President and COO at Frontier Lifeline Hospital.

The 3D printed heart valves were manufactured using specialised biopolymers that are very similar to human tissue, which can be directly implanted in heart patients. In addition, the use of specialised computer-aided design software and A modeling techniques, based on the MRI scan images of the human heart, enables to customise and 3D print heart valves that will fit exactly to the dimensions of the patient's heart, he explained in a statement. He called the innovation "a giant leap in the field of cardiology/cardiac surgery".

What's more, since it is "Made in India", this novel heart valve could cost much lower than that of the imported heart valves. Next, Cherian would be testing his 3D printed heart valve to confirm its biocompatibility, efficacy and durability, and plans to patent it.

Cherian collaborated with the Centre for Automation and School of Mechanical Engineering, Vellore Institute of Technology (VIT), Chennai to develop the new 3D printed heart valve.

Causes and Symptoms of heart valve disorders

Heart valve disorders have different causal factors. These include: birth defect; inflammation of the heart tissue, rheumatic fever, age-related changes, heart attack, coronary artery disease, hypertension, or high blood pressure, syphilis (a relatively rare sexually transmitted infection), hardening of the arteries, lupus, etc,

Symptoms of heart valve disorders may depend on the severity of the disorder. In many cases, mild or moderate heart valve disorders do not show any symptoms. However, common signs and symptoms one may experience include:

  • shortness of breath
  • heart palpitations
  • fatigue
  • chest pain
  • dizziness
  • fainting
  • headaches
  • Coughing
  • water retention that causes swelling in the lower extremities and abdomen
  • pulmonary edema resulting from excess fluid in the lungs

If you're experiencing any of these symptoms of a heart valve disorder, see a heart specialist.