Jan 30, 2007
The surgery is done through a small incision in the skin
The technique has been used at only four other hospitals in the world before - in Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Canada.
Cardiologists at Glenfield Hospital replaced the valve in an operation that is less invasive as it does not involve open heart surgery.
Gladys Adams, 89, was the first patient to undergo the surgery on Tuesday.
A spokeswoman for the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust said the operation had gone well and the patient was recovering.
The new technique involves a short operation to implant the valve using a catheter.
Keyhole heart valve surgery to replace defective pulmonary heart valves was pioneered at Great Ormond Street Hospital in 2002.
Professor Peter Weissberg, medical director of the British Heart Foundation, said: "We're very pleased to see this technology now being used more widely in the UK to treat elderly people with life-threatening aortic heart valve disease.
"Reducing the trauma of treatment by using non-invasive techniques has huge potential, particularly for babies and elderly people who are often less likely to cope well with open heart surgery procedures."
Dr Jan Kovac, consultant cardiologist at Glenfield Hospital, said: "In the past, patients had to endure open heart surgery and would have been in hospital for at least a week after their operation.
"This new catheter treatment is much quicker and in most cases patients will be back home within a few days of having the operation.
"This technique is the biggest invention in cardiology over the last 30 years since the introduction of the coronary angioplasty."
Heart valve replacements are the second most common heart operation carried out at Glenfield Hospital after coronary heart bypasses.