St. Joseph Hospital offers breakthrough treatment for Congenital Heart Disease

In January 2010, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the nation's first transcatheter valve - the Melody® Transcatheter Pulmonary Valve ( TPV). With Melody® TPV Therapy a thin, hollow tube (catheter) holding a specially designed heart valve is inserted into a vein in the leg and guided to the heart. The heart valve is attached to a wire frame that expands with the help of a balloon to push the blocked pulmonary conduit open.

In August 2010, St. Joseph Hospital became one of the nation's first hospitals to place the Melody ® TPV in four patients who were born with a congenital heart defect. Utilizing Orange County's first hybrid OR, which incorporates a robotic 3D imaging system, Farhouch Berdjis, MD, and Richard Gates, MD, successfully implanted the Melody® TPV in two pediatric patients ages 11 and 12, and two young adults ages, 18 and 21. All four patients were discharged the next day.

Individual treatment plans

Each patient’s treatment plan is based on the severity of the congenital heart disease. Some mild heart defects do not require any treatment. Others can be treated with medications, invasive procedures or surgery. Most adults with congenital heart disease should be monitored by a heart specialist and take precautions to prevent endocarditis (an infection of the heart) throughout their life.

To protect yourself against developing endocarditis, follow these steps

  • Inform all doctors and dentists that you have congenital heart disease. You may want to carry a card with you that contains this information.
  • Call your doctor if you have symptoms of an infection (sore throat, general body achiness, fever). Colds and flus do not cause endocarditis. But infections, which may have the same symptoms, do. So, to be safe, call your doctor.
  • Take good care of your teeth and gums to prevent infections. See your dentist for regular visits.
  • Take antibiotics according to the American Heart Association guidelines before you undergo any procedure that may cause bleeding:
    • Any dental work (even a basic teeth cleaning)
    • Invasive tests
    • Most major or minor surgery
    • Check with your doctor about the type and amount of antibiotics that you should take