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New valve procedure doesn’t open heart


2 Star

New valve procedure doesn’t open heart

Our Review Summary

This was a story about evolving options for the treatment of valvular heart disease.  It provided the contrast between a mother and daughter, who had open heart and percutaneous valve therapy, respectively.  One involved a long hospital stay, long recuperation, and a procedure that resulted in a scar. The other required only a few days in the hospital, a short recovery period and no scar.  However other than this information, the viewer was not prepared to evaluate the new medical device.  The story did not explain what type of heart valve disease for which it might be used, the symptoms of heart valve disease that might suggest that use of the device might be appropriate, and did not present any information about how often the device successfully resolves the problem, how long it lasts, or any adverse events associated with the use of the device. There was also no discussion of costs.

Although presented as a cutting-edge technology, this type of intervention has been under investigation for many years.  This story did little to inform the viewer about the condition or its treatment options.  An anecodotal imbalance is created by letting the patient get away – unchallenged – with calling this "an absolute miracle." 


Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

There was no cost estimate provided for this medical device. 


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

Not Satisfactory

What we learn about benefits in this story are that the use of this procedure reduces time spent in the hospital, the length of the recovery period, and eliminates having the scar associated with an open heart procedure. 

However, the story included nothing about the extent to which the medical problems associated with heart valve disease are repaired with this device, how long the repair is expected to be functional, or other benefits that might come from the use of this device.

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

Not Satisfactory

There were no harms of treatment mentioned.

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

Not Satisfactory

This story did not really contain much in the way of evidence other than mentioning that about 70 patients had received the medical device.  There was no information about the type of valve problem that was treated, or anything about the outcome following surgery.  This is really the biggest weakness of the story.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?


No overt disease-mongering.

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

Not Satisfactory

The interviewees were all fans and users of the procedure.  The range of sources wasn't diverse. 

It would have been beneficial to have someone comment on the difference between the procedures, the types of conditions that may be most amenable to treatment with the experimental medical device, and some more about patients for whom it might be appropriate to consider use of the device.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Not Satisfactory

Although unclear about what exact heart valve problem was being treated, the story compared and contrasted the experience of two family members with the same medical condition treated with different options.  The story painted a very positive picture for the use of the medical device vs. open heart surgery but gave no indication that both treatments may be more appropriate for specific categories of patients.

The story provided no indication that there might be medical management options for the treatment of heart valve disease.

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


This piece did include a disclaimer at the end that this procedure is done only in a limited number of centers and is investigational at this time.


Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Not Satisfactory

While the story was about a new medical device being tested to treat heart valve problems, percutaneous valve replacement dates back to the 1960's.

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

Not Applicable

We can't be sure if the story relied solely or largely on a news release.

Total Score: 2 of 9 Satisfactory


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