Public Release:  University of Kentucky physicians perform transcatheter aortic valve replacements

University of Kentucky

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 16, 2012) -- Interventional cardiologists at UK HealthCare's Gill Heart Institute have successfully performed the facility's first two transcatheter aortic valve replacements.

The procedure, also known as TAVR, is used for patients with severe, symptomatic aortic stenosis who are not candidates for traditional open-heart surgery.

The transcatheter value team was led by Dr. John Gurley and coordinated by Vicki Turner. The multidisciplinary team included surgeons Dr. Chand Ramaiah and Dr. Hassan Reda; interventional cardiologists Dr. Khaled Ziada, Dr. Joseph Foley and Dr. Matthew Wiisanen; cardiac imaging specialists Dr. Steve Leung and Dr. Vince Sorrell; and anesthesiologist Dr. Johannes Steyn.

"We are excited to offer this option to patients with aortic valve disease," Gurley said. "TAVR is the latest addition to UK's comprehensive catheter-based structural heart program, which began offering balloon valvuloplasty in 1985."

In a healthy heart, the aortic valve is able to open wide, allowing the heart to pump oxygenated blood to the body.

In a aortic stenosis, the valve is unable to open adequately, resulting in an obstruction of blood flow from the heart chamber into the aorta. When the blood flow is obstructed, less oxygen is able to flow through, and patients can suffer from shortness of breath, chest pains or fainting episodes.

During the minimally invasive TAVR procedure, a prosthetic valve is implanted within the diseased aortic valve using a catheter inserted through the groin area. Once in place, a balloon is inflated to open the valve. Almost immediately, the new valve starts working in place of the diseased valve, resulting in improved blood flow.

"Our valve team is the most experienced in the region," said Dr. Susan Smyth, chief and medical director of the Gill Heart Institute. "Dr. Gurley is a national leader in catheter-based approaches to structural heart disease, with 25 years of experience and important pioneering work. Our surgeons have some of the lowest hospital mortality in the country and our valve coordinator has 20 years of experience managing patients before and after heart surgery."

"The valve program typifies UK's state-of-the art approach to cardiovascular care, combining new hybrid operating facilities, a major cardiovascular imaging center, and a multidisciplinary staff," Smyth said. "The goal is to provide the most appropriate care possible, tailored to our individual patients but based on the latest evidence and technology."

The new valve, developed by Edwards Lifesciences, is known as the Edwards SAPIEN valve.

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