50th TAVR Completed

Dec 30, 2015

St. Joseph’s/Candler Completes 50th Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement Procedure

First brought to the region by St. Joseph’s/Candler two years ago, the procedure replaces valves without open surgery.

The Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement team at St. Joseph’s/Candler has reached a significant milestone by completing 50 of the technologically-advanced procedures, giving new life back to some of the sickest patients.

50TAVR-2Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement, or TAVR, was created to replace calcified aortic valves without opening up the heart like in traditional surgeries. This gives new hope to patients who can’t tolerate open surgery and can dramatically reduce recovery time.

The Heart Hospital was the first in the region to employ this technology in 2013. Our TAVR patients ranged in age from 64 to 94 and the average stay in the hospital after the procedure was two days.

“The first TAVR was performed in the United States in 2002 and it has proved to be an amazing breakthrough in the way we treat patients with valve disease,” said Dr. Michael Babcock, who is TAVR fellowship-trained. “Imagine enduring a critical condition such as this and having your valve replaced with only two or three days recovery.”

To learn more and see videos of a TAVR procedures, go to www.sjchs.org/tavr or call The Valve Clinic at 912-819-TAVR.

The 50th Patient

Beverly Harris had just moved to Statesboro from Tennessee when she began to experience shortness of breath, fatigue and an inability to do the things she used to do.

This was all caused by a calcified aortic valve that would not open. But the problem was that she was at high risk for open valve-replacement surgery because in the past she had received radiation treatment for cancer.

She saw her local cardiologist who knew about the TAVR procedure and referred her to The Valve Clinic at St. Joseph’s/Candler.

She was a perfect candidate for TAVR and on Dec. 22 Dr. Babcock placed a new valve in her heart.

She went home two days later, just in time for Christmas.

“I feel great, I feel really good,” Harris said today during her first follow-up appointment at The Valve Clinic. “I had no pain at all. They gave me a prescription, but I haven’t needed it.”

She calls her move to Statesboro divine intervention.

“If I would have been in Tennessee, it would have been open heart surgery,” she said. “I needed these doctors.”

How TAVR works

The TAVR team is made up of a group of highly-trained specialists, including a cardiothoracic surgeon, interventional cardiologists, imaging and anesthesia physicians as well as sonographers and surgical and cath lab staff.

TAVR is a less invasive approach allowing the team to use a catheter inserted from the patient’s leg or chest to insert a new prosthetic valve while the patient’s heart is still beating.

It is indicated for patients with aortic stenosis, or a narrowing of the aortic valve opening that does not allow normal blood flow, who have a history or other medical conditions.

During the procedure, the patient receives general anesthesia. Once asleep, a small incision is made so specialists can insert a short hollow tube about the width of a pencil. The specialists will then insert a balloon into the sheath and use a special x-ray to navigate it through the vessel until it reaches the aortic valve. There, the balloon is inflated stretching, the nonfunctioning heart valve.

Next, the team will use the same sheath and x-ray to advance a transcatheter heart valve. Again, a balloon is used to expand the new prosthetic valve within the diseased valve, pushing the leaflets of the diseased valve aside.

The TAVR team uses the Edwards Lifesciences SAPIEN 3 transcatheter heart valve for its TAVR procedures. This third generation heart valve has a smaller profile for smaller blood vessel diameters, increasing the number of patients eligible for the transfemoral version of the procedure.

As the balloon is deflated, the heart’s normal blood flow will cause the leaflets of the new valve to begin working.

While the length of stay within the hospital will depend on the specific procedure and overall health, most TAVR patients go home within 2-3 days following the procedure.

TAVR Doctors at St. Joseph's/Candler

Dr. William Wallace
Dr. Michael Babcock
Dr. Scott McGlynn

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