US progress on heart valve surgery

AS FOREIGN Minister Kevin Rudd prepares to undergo an operation to replace his aortic valve, cardiologists in America have endorsed a new type of artificial valve inserted via a femoral catheter.

Mr Rudd confirmed on Wednesday that he would undergo a procedure to replace his prosthetic aortic valve next month.

While it was unknown which type of valve Mr Rudd would have inserted, the news came as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory panel said the benefits of the new Sapien aortic heart valve outweighed the risks for patients who could not undergo traditional valve replacement surgery.

The endorsement came despite concerns about the increased risk of stroke and cardiovascular complications among patients.

The advisory panel decision is only a recommendation to the FDA. If approved by the FDA, the implant would be the first artificial aortic valve that would be inserted via a trans-catheter method