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By Richard Asinof
PROVIDENCE – Rhode Island hospital completed its first aortic valve replacement using a catheter through a less-invasive procedure developed for patients with severe aortic stenosis, or diseased heart valves, the hospital reported on April 9.
This innovative procedure makes it possible for patients, who are considered too high risk for open heart surgery, to have this life-saving procedure, which restores proper blood flow to the heart and body.
Rhode Island Hospital is the second hospital in New England to perform this procedure since its FDA approval in November.
Known as transcatheter aortic valve replacement, it replaces a narrowed or diseased aortic heart valve nonsurgically through a catheter that is inserted through the thigh. The valve is fed through that catheter to the heart, in effect, replacing the valve from the inside.
“This is a wonderful option for patients who are not well enough to endure open heart surgery,” said Dr. Barry Sharaf, interventional cardiologist and director of the cardiac catheterization lab at Rhode Island Hospital. “Patients will be able to return to doing the things that most people take for granted – such as walking or climbing a flight of stairs.”
Previously, patients who could not undergo open heart surgery would be treated with maintenance medications, but would not have the diseased valve surgically repaired or replaced. TAVR is performed in an operating room by an interventional cardiologist with support from a multi-disciplinary team, including cardiothoracic surgery staff.
“This procedure is truly a team effort – while it is a less-invasive, non-surgical procedure, it requires the participation of many teams to ensure the best outcome,” said James Fingleton, cardiothoracic surgeon at Rhode Island and The Miriam hospitals. There were 30 clinical staff members in the OR during the procedure, including cardiology, interventional cardiology, cardiac surgery, vascular surgery, anesthesiology, cardiac perfusion, as well as clinical support staff from the cardiac catheterization lab and operating room.