If I need a heart valve repaired or replaced, can I choose a percutaneous (catheter-based, non-surgical) procedure, rather than go through open-heart surgery?
Not yet, unless you are eligible to participate in a clinical trial. As these new experimental procedures become approved by federal regulators in the United States, you can expect them to become increasingly available. Several of these procedures are already approved in Europe.
The first U.S. patients to benefit from them will be the patients eligible for clinical trails. Some of the trials are for patients too old or frail for conventional surgery, and some are for patients well suited for surgery. As less invasive procedures demonstrate that they can meet or exceed the high standards set by surgery, they will likely become an increasingly common option for all patients.