The Heart-Growth Project: An Innovative Approach to Congenital Heart Disease

David Kalfa, MD, PhD, has received a grant from the CHD Coalition to create and test a new type of heart valve that can grow and conform to the patient’s anatomy over time.  Such a device would benefit neonates, children and young adults with congenital heart disease, reducing the need for multiple surgeries and greatly improving their quality of life.

More than 40% of these patients require the replacement of the aortic or pulmonary valves at some point. Currently available valves or valved tube prostheses do not have any growth potential and so multiple reoperations are required to replace them.  Repeated procedures bring a significant risk of mortality (1 to 30%) and morbidity, and also result in increased health care costs. They also greatly impact the patient’s overall health, comfort, and ability to engage in normal activities.

“Heart valve biological tissue-engineering is a promising avenue of research but this still has some limitations,” says Dr. Kalfa, Assistant Professor of Pediatric Cardiac Surgery and Assistant Director of the Cardiothoracic Research Lab at Columbia. “We are looking into an innovative mechanically engineered valved prosthesis with a growth potential.   Our goal, over the next year, is to produce and evaluate such a device.” 

This new device may be based on a mechanical disruptive concept, never used before. Columbia researchers have already identified two innovative design concepts and during the next year they create and test a prototype.

“This approach would undoubtedly improve lives of children and adults with CHD and help to lessen the effects of their long-life disease,” says Dr. Kalfa. “Implanting a device with a growth potential can decrease the risks related to open heart surgeries and the risks related to bypass machine, including the risks of death, bleeding, cerebral vascular accident, damage to the coronary arteries, cardiac rhythm alterations, infection.  This new type of valve can help us to address many types of CHD, including Aortic Stenosis, Shone’s Complex, Pulmonary Stenosis, Tetralogy of Fallot, Pulmonary Atresia, Truncus Arteriosus, simple and complex Transposition of the Great Arteries.”

The Heart-Growth Project is a multidisciplinary collaboration between the Department of Surgery, Section of Pediatric and Congenital Cardiac Surgery and the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Columbia.

Learn more about the Pediatric Congenital Heart Center at Columbia here »
To refer a patient, call 212 305 7013.