The current Food and Drug Administration (FDA) heart valve guidance document uses an objective performance criteria (OPC) methodology to evaluate the clinical performance of prosthetic heart valves. OPC are essentially historical controls, but they have turned out to be an adequate, and perhaps optimal, study design in this situation. Heart valves have a simple open-and-close mechanism, device effectiveness is easy to document, and the common complications (thromboembolism, thrombosis, bleeding, leak, and infection) are well known and easily detected. Thus, randomized clinical trials (RCTs) have not been deemed necessary for the regulatory approval of prosthetic heart valves. The OPC are derived from the average complication rates of all approved heart valves. Studies based on OPC have been shown to work well; many different valve models have gained FDA market approval based on this methodology. Although heart valve RCTs are not required by the FDA, they have been done to compare valves or treatment regimens after approval. Recently, the Artificial Valve Endocarditis Reduction Trial (AVERT) was designed to compare a new Silzone sewing ring, designed to reduce infection, with the Standard sewing ring on a St. Jude Medical heart valve. This was the largest heart valve RCT ever proposed (4,400 valve patients, followed for as long as 4 years), but it was stopped prematurely because of a high leak rate associated with the Silzone valve. Examining the results showed that a much smaller, OPC-based study with 800 patient-years would have been sufficient to disclose this complication of the Silzone valve.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine