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Medical Breakthrough: Amazing New Heart Valve Procedure

Rating

2 Star

Medical Breakthrough: Amazing New Heart Valve Procedure

Our Review Summary

Open heart valve replacement is a major procedure, involving risks and a long recovery period. To be able to do a minimally invasive valve replacement would represent a major improvement for the patient but would need to be demonstrated as effective and safe as the open procedure. At Columbia, a clinical trial of minimally-invasive valve replacement is ongoing but results have not been released or published. As a result, many questions remain about the procedure.

However, this story makes it sound as if this new procedure is a fait-accompli. Referring to it as "groundbreaking" and "the biggest thing since the heart transplant" imply that all patients who are candidates for this procedure should run out and get it.

This story provides little in the way of real information to patients or family members who would be seriously considering valve replacement. It quotes no sources other than doctors at Columbia who have an interest in how this procedure is evaluated. The story also does little to provide information on the availability of the procedure, the evidence to support its use, the costs and potential harms.

The story appropriately describes the procedure as novel, but otherwise, this rather lengthy story falls short on all other criteria.

Criteria

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

The story does not mention the costs of the procedure.

Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Not Satisfactory

The story does not quantify the benefits of the new procedure.

Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

The story does not mention any harms of the procedure.

Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?

Not Satisfactory

The story does not comment on the strength of the available evidence to support the new procedure.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Satisfactory

The story does explain that the procedure is now being studied only in people with aortic stenosis. The story speculates a lot on how this procedure could be extended to other patients, but does not really provide any justification for this other than it hasn’t been studied.

Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?

Not Satisfactory

The story quotes two experts but they are both from the same institution. The story should have quoted more experts who can provide more perspective.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Not Satisfactory

The story mentions open heart surgery but does not discuss the pros and cons of the less invasive procedure or mention any other treatment options.

Does the story establish the availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Satisfactory

The story mentions that the procedure would be hard to get outside of a trial. The story should have done more to explain the limited availability of the procedure at this time rather than focus on how widely it could be used in the future.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Satisfactory

Clearly the procedure is new.

Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release?

Not Applicable

There is no way to know if the story relies on a press release as the sole source of information.

Total Score: 3 of 9 Satisfactory

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