Delaware Public Media

Bayhealth has a new tool for open heart surgery

Dec 27, 2018

Bayhealth recently became the first in Delaware to use the Edwards Intuity Elite valve system—a device used to replace the heart’s aortic valve in patients with aortic stenosis.


Aortic stenosis is when the aortic valve becomes narrowed. Common symptoms may include chest pain, shortness of breath and lightheadedness.

Replacement valves normally require 12 to 15 sutures to hold them into place. But the so-called rapid deployment valve requires at most three sutures because it is ballooned into place.

“It’s deployed much quicker because you’re not putting all those sutures in,” said Bayhealth’s Chief Cardiothoracic Surgeon Gary Szydlowski. “So if you have a patient who is having a long surgery, they have a sick heart, you want to get out of the operating room as quickly as possible and shorten the operation—you can deploy this valve quicker than a standard valve.”

Szydlowski adds the valve also allows for less invasive surgery and results in a larger opening for blood flow.

“So if you’re operating on someone for stenotic—that is narrowed heart valve—you want to get in there as big an opening as possible, and this valve facilitates a slightly larger opening than previously standard sutured valves.”

Sydlowski says the rapid deployment valve is more expensive than standard valves and not appropriate for every scenario. The new valve was approved by the FDA two years ago and Bayhealth has installed the device on four patients so far.

Aortic valve disease affects more than 25% of individuals over the age of 65, according to the Journal of Geriatric Cardiology.

Sydlowski says he expects the rapid deployment valve to be used more frequently on patients who are not candidates for non-invasive heart surgery.