Two prominent surgeons have called for a hard second look at the use of prosthetic replacements for diseased or malfunctioning heart valves.
While acknowledging the value of artificial valve replacement as a palliative measure in extreme cases, Sir Russell Brock, president of The Royal College of Surgeons, and Charles P. Bailey, MD, director of thoracic and cardiovascular surgery, St. Barnabas Hospital, New York City, suggested that enthusiasm for the relative ease and technical success of the procedure has led to its overuse.
"Obviously when a patient has no future without operation, valve excision is not only justifiable, but can be a brilliant, worthy and indeed, highly commendable form of treatment," said Sir Russell. "There is, however, much evidence that the limitations of valve excision and replacement are. often totally ignored. Many cardiac surgeons today seem intoxicated or hypnotized by the temporary technical successes and replace valves as an elective procedure