Christus Trinity Mother Frances Louis and Peaches Owen Heart Hospital announced Tuesday the successful completion of 500 transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) surgeries.
“This is a big deal because in the past the main option was open-heart surgery,” said Dr. Kyle Smith, a structural interventional cardiologist. “There was a high risk of death, and life expectancy was two or three years with a 50 percent survival rate.”
As a surgical option for patients with severe to moderate risk, it is much less invasive compared to open heart surgery.
This procedure is a surgical option for patients suffering from aortic valve stenosis, a heart valve disease that affects more than 1.5 million Americans each year.
The aortic valve is located between the left lower chamber of the heart (left ventricle) and the body’s main artery (aorta).
If the valve doesn’t open properly, blood flow from the heart to the body is reduced, Smith said, adding that it causes chest pain and the patient has trouble breathing.
The TAVR procedure replaces an aortic valve that is not working properly by making a small incision in the inguinal artery.
A replacement valve made from porcine tissue is passed through a hollow catheter and placed in the area of the aortic valve, replacing the failed valve.
The balloon at the tip of the catheter is inflated to push the new valve into place, although some valves expand without the use of a balloon.
Not only is the procedure not as invasive, the operation time and recovery time are relatively short.
The procedure itself can take between one and a half to two hours, including the process of anesthetizing the patient, according to Smith.
“It can take thirty to forty-five minutes to install a valve,” Smith said. “It does not take much time”.
After surgery, patients usually stay in the hospital for one or two days and return to their normal activities within a few days.
“Recovery time for patients is much faster than traditional open-heart surgery,” said William F. Turner, MD, cardiothoracic surgeon.
In 2016, the first successful TAVR procedure was performed at the Cardiology Hospital.
“Become the first accredited program [in 2020] in Texas demonstrates our commitment to providing the best, patient-centered care for our community,” said Sheldon Friberg, MD, Medical Director of the Structural Heart Program. “We are proud to be able to offer local, high-quality heart valve treatment to provide comfort and less travel for Northeast Texas patients.”
While the TAVR procedure is still new, the life expectancy of a new valve is 10 to 15 years.
“This procedure is a real lifesaver, giving patients the opportunity to improve their quality of life when their treatment options were limited,” said Turner.
“I am so grateful to our incredibly talented team,” said Natalie Kelly, valve program coordinator, “and for being able to treat so many patients in our community and surrounding areas.”