The new life-saving treatment could be widely available in two years after Australian surgeons conducted the first successful trial.
The treatment allows surgeons to replace the aortic valve in patients suffering from narrowing of the artery, a condition known as aortic stenosis.
During the 90 minute operation a synthetic heart valve, called a lotus valve, is passed through the groin and into the heart, before it opens up like a flower. It is unique because it can be withdrawn and repositioned if necessary during the surgery.
It was trialled on eleven elderly Australian women at Melbourne’s St Vincent’s Hospital and the Royal Adelaide Hospital.
Research leader Professor Ian Meredith, who is Director at Melbourne’s Monash Medical Clinic, said the technique marked a ‘huge new step’ in treating the heart condition.
‘This is a tremendous start and it really is a major cultural shift in the way we are going to do heart valve replacements in the future,’ he added to News.com.au.
Prof Meredith said: ‘When you have severe aortic valve narrowing and you become breathless as a consequence of that, more than half the people won’t survive 12 months.
The technique will now be trialled in 16 hospitals in Germany, France, the UK and Australia.