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Published on January 09, 2014

Cone Health Heart and Vascular Center Named Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement Center

Center prepares to begin minimally invasive heart valve replacements in February.

 

Cone Health Heart and Vascular Center has been accepted as a Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) Center by Edwards Lifesciences. The Center is preparing to begin TAVR procedures in people with aortic valve disease who are felt to be at high risk for traditional valve replacement surgery. Edwards currently has the only FDA approved TAVR device, called the Sapien® valve, on the U.S. market.

A type of valve disease, aortic stenosis, develops as the aortic valve degenerates. This condition – which is common in the elderly – results in the partial obstruction of blood going from the heart into the aorta and to the rest of the body. People with severe aortic stenosis have a very short life expectancy. An artificial valve can be used to replace the diseased valve and alleviate the obstruction. However, some patients cannot tolerate conventional valve replacement surgery because of their age, anatomical make-up or other medical problems.

“TAVR is a terrific option for those who are unable to undergo the rigors of open heart surgery that are usually required to replace a valve,” says Heart and Vascular Center and Imaging Vice President Rich Lundy. “It is great to offer this procedure to patients in our community and region.”

People who are eligible for TAVR will undergo a catheterization-based valve replacement. The Sapien® valve is compressed to the diameter of a pencil. The surgeon places it into one of the large blood vessels in the groin or enters a blood vessel by going between the ribs. Using a series of X-rays, the surgeon slides the mechanical valve inside the diseased heart valve. From there it is expanded. This locks the device into place, opens the narrowed area caused by disease and deploys the mechanical valve, which controls the flow of blood. Most people will return home in two or three days.

A Cone Health Heart and Vascular Center team has traveled to numerous other facilities for TAVR training. A highly advanced “hybrid” operating room that will be used for the procedures was opened as part of the North Tower project at The Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital. The first TAVR at Cone Health Heart and Vascular Center should happen in late February.

“Not only can people undergo this surgery right in their own community, but they know they are being cared for in one of the highest-quality heart programs anywhere,” adds Lundy. The heart surgery program at Cone Health Heart and Vascular Center has been recognized for excellent outcomes in heart bypass surgery and valve replacement/repair surgery including minimally invasive techniques. The program has earned a 3-Star Rating (highest level) for coronary bypass surgery from the Society of Thoracic Surgeons for the past four years.

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