First implant of St Jude Medical’s Portico transcatheter heart valve


On 7 June 2011, St Jude Medical announced the first human implant of its Portico transcatheter aortic heart valve. The procedure was performed by John Webb, director of cardiac catheterization and interventional cardiology at St Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver, Canada.

“The first human implant of the Portico transcatheter valve is a significant milestone for our transcatheter aortic valve replacement programme and was built off of our 30-year legacy in surgical heart valves,” said Frank J Callaghan, president of the St Jude Medical Cardiovascular Division. “The valve is designed to resolve several key limitations associated with the first generation of transcatheter valves, and it demonstrated some of these benefits as it was recaptured and repositioned during its first implant procedure.”


The valve, which is made of bovine pericardial tissue, is designed to increase physicians’ control and placement accuracy during valve deployment. The Portico transcatheter heart valve can be completely resheathed and retrieved before it is released from the delivery system, allowing physicians to reposition the valve at the implant site. No transcatheter valve currently on the market has the ability to be re-sheathed, repositioned, or retrieved.

The St Jude Medical transcatheter heart valve was designed for the estimated 400,000 patients with severe aortic stenosis who are considered to be high risk or inoperable for conventional open-heart valve replacement therapy. Two delivery methods will be available for the Portico valve, transfemoral and transapical.


Commenting on the first implant, Gregory Fontana, professor and vice chairman, Department of Surgery at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute in Los Angeles, USA, said, “Many of the shortcomings of first generation devices have been addressed with the next generation St Jude Medical Portico transcatheter valve.”


In February 2010, St Jude Medical announced that Fontana, and Raj Makkar, director of the Interventional Cardiology and Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute, will be the principal investigators in the company’s transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI) clinical trial. The study will evaluate the safety and efficacy of the St Jude Medical transcatheter aortic valve for patients who experience severe aortic stenosis and who may be at an elevated risk for open-heart surgery.


“The St Jude Medical transcatheter valve is a promising new technology that is likely to offer increased functionality for transfemoral and transapical implantation,” said Makkar. “We are looking forward to offering an advanced, less-invasive treatment for patients at high risk for surgery.”


The European clinical trial of the St Jude Medical transcatheter aortic valve is expected to start in late 2011.