London: An Indian-origin surgeon-led team in Britain has come up with a one-hour keyhole operation to replace heart valve. It would be a breakthrough which offers hope to cardiac patients too sick to undergo an open-heart surgery.

Vinayak Bapat of Guy's and St Thomas' Hospital and his team have developed the procedure, called Transcatheter Aortic-Valve Implantation (TAVI), which treats heart-valve failure under local anesthetic.

"For seriously ill patients who do not have the option of heart surgery, TAVI is their one chance of life. It has the potential to save thousands of lives and is ultimately cheaper than prescribing years of medication," Dr Bapat said.

Aortic stenosis is the most common valve disease which can be caused by birth defects though in older patients it is usually the result of calcium building up in heart's main valve, the aortic valve, hindering blood flow.

The best solution is valve-replacement surgery via open-heart surgery, which involves opening up the patient's chest, putting their heart on a bypass machine and replacing the aortic valve.

But, the TAVI requires only a small incision made in the thigh or chest to insert a stainless steel mesh tube with heart tissue from a cow lining the inside of it, say surgeons.