New Aortic Valve Replacement Procedure Gives Hope to Those Who Cannot Undergo Open Heart Surgery


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Jewish Hospital first in Kentucky to offer groundbreaking procedure

Louisville, Ky.—Some individuals with severe aortic stenosis (also known as narrowing of the aortic valve in the heart) who are not well enough to undergo open heart surgery have a new treatment option thanks to a groundbreaking procedure now available in Kentucky at Jewish Hospital. 

A team that included cardiologists Michael Flaherty, M.D, PhD, Naresh Solankhi, M.D., and cardiothoracic surgeon Matthew Williams, M.D, performed the first transcatheter aortic-valve replacement (TAVR) procedure on a 47 year-old male patient on December 21, 2011.

During this new procedure a biological valve was inserted through a catheter and implanted within a diseased aortic valve. The procedure allows for valve replacement without traditional open-heart surgery and while the heart is beating, therefore avoiding cardiopulmonary bypass.  It is the only valve replacement option for patients with severe aortic stenosis who are not well enough to undergo traditional open-heart surgery.  Most patients will avoid any surgery in their chest.

“For patients who qualify, the TAVR procedure is often their last hope for treatment of their heart disease,” said Michael Flaherty, M.D, PhD, Director Structural Cardiac Interventions and Research-Division of Cardiology, University of Louisville. “It’s a unique procedure and we are once again proud to be on the cutting edge of heart care in the region.”

During the TAVR procedure, a cardiologist and cardiothoracic surgeon work together to implant the new heart valve, called the Edwards SAPIEN valve, which is made from cow tissue and developed by Edwards Lifesciences. 

The valve is inserted into the body through a small cut in the leg. Once delivered to the site of the patient's diseased valve, the Edwards SAPIEN valve is expanded with a balloon and immediately functions in place of the patient's valve.

Jewish Hospital is one of 29 sites in the United States that is now studying the Edwards SAPIEN transcatheter aortic heart valve and the next-generation Edwards SAPIEN XT valve as part of an ongoing national clinical trial called The PARTNER II Trial.  The Edwards SAPIEN valve which was studied in the first PARTNER Trial recently received FDA approval for the treatment of inoperable patients in the United States.  It has been used in Europe since 2007.  This is the first U.S. commercial approval for a transcatheter device enabling aortic valve replacement without the need for open-heart surgery.

“The availability of the TAVR procedure marks a major milestone in the treatment of valve-related heart disease,” said Matt Williams, M.D. with University Cardiothoracic Surgical Associates and Assistant Professor Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery at UofL. “It gives us another tool to help take care of people. Older folks, who would prefer to avoid surgery if they can, will be the patients who will most often benefit.”

Jewish Hospital has long been home to many medical firsts in the field of heart care, including the first adult open heart surgery in Kentucky in 1965, the state’s first heart transplant in 1984 and the world’s first and second AbioCor® implantable replacement heart procedures in 2001.

Jewish Hospital is an internationally renowned high-tech tertiary referral center developing leading-edge advancements in hand and microsurgery, heart and lung care, home care, rehab medicine (including sports medicine), orthopaedics, neuroscience, occupational health, organ transplantation and outpatient and primary care.  Site of the world’s first successful hand transplant, and the world’s first and second successful AbioCor® Implantable Replacement Heart procedures, the hospital is also federally designated to perform all five solid organ transplants – heart, lung, liver, kidney and pancreas.





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Last Updated: 2/4/2015