Starr-Edwards Heart Valve

This is a Starr-Edwards ball and cage mitral valve, model 6120 extended cloth valve. It is comprised of stellite and silastic, and has good durability and hemodynamics. A primary disadvantage of mechanical valves is the need to take anticoagulants. Because the style of the caged ball valve differed greatly from the form of a natural valve, Starr described it as, "a repugnant intracardiac appliance." The 6120 model improved upon the earlier 6000 model by extending the Dacron material over the entire orifice to cover any bare metal surfaces. The model was produced from 1960 to 1972. It had the advantage of being durable, but the disadvantage of having to take anti-coagulants/blood thinners to prevent clotting. The silicone poppet makes it less noisy than a valve with a metal ball. In a study of 85 patients, the probability of being free of serious embolus for five years post-surgery was 83%.
This valve was manufactured around 1966 by American Edwards Laboratories, a company founded by Dr. Albert Starr, MD (b. 1926) of Bellevue Hospital of Columbia University, and Lowell Edwards (1889-1982), a semi-retired engineer from the University of Oregon. The Starr-Edwards collaboration dates to 1958, when the two creators began to develop and build the first artificial heart. Starr did his residency at Johns Hopkins, where the famed Blalock and Taussig pioneering operation to treat children born with the heart malformation tetralogy of Fallot. While there Dr. Starr worked with Denton Cooley. Edwards started a medical device company that generated more than $300 million in worldwide sales in 1980.
Currently not on view
Object Name
artificial heart valve
date made
ca 1966
American Edwards Laboratories
Physical Description
stellite (valve material)
silastic (valve material)
cloth (valve material)
valve: 3.6 cm x 3.7 cm; 1 13/32 in x 1 15/32 in
place made
United States: California, Santa Ana
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
serial number
Artificial Organs
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Medicine
Artificial Heart Valves
Health & Medicine
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of Manuel Villafaña
Additional Media

Visitor Comments

11/25/2016 6:27:04 PM
Dick Berger
At the age of 32 in 1981 I have Aortic Valve Replacement done at Christ Hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio. I still have the same Ball n Cage for over 35 Years.
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