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Scott & White offers new alternative to open heart surgery

Less invasive procedure now available in Central Texas

Scott & White Memorial Hospital – Temple has a new alternative to open heart surgery called Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) for adult patients who suffer from severe aortic stenosis, a condition where the aortic valve does not fully open or is narrowed, often due to calcium build-up, impairing the way blood exits the heart.  In some patients who have many other complicated medical conditions, traditional open heart surgery is either not an option or very risky.  TAVR is a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved therapy that is less invasive and an option for patients who are not considered candidates for surgery.

“We have been seeing patients that were poor candidates for the traditional surgery typically used, so we knew that by providing this new, innovative procedure, we would be able to help many more patients in our area,” said Gregory Dehmer, MD, director for the division of cardiology at Scott & White Memorial Hospital – Temple. “TAVR provides an alternative for many of these patients who would otherwise go untreated.”

Aortic stenosis is a serious problem. Up to 1.5 million people in the United States suffer from aortic stenosis, and approximately 250,000 of these patients suffer from the more severe symptomatic form, which causes shortness of breath, fainting spells (syncope), chest pain, and even sudden death.  Without treatment, roughly half of the patients who experience symptoms could die within two years.

“Older adults may have other health problems, or are quite frail, which prevents them from having open heart surgery,” said Kenton Zehr, MD, director for the division of cardiothoracic surgery at Scott & White Memorial Hospital – Temple. “TAVR allows us to replace the aortic valve with a much less invasive procedure, which allows for a faster recovery for the patient.”

During the procedure, an Edwards SAPIEN Transcatheter Heart Valve, which is a collapsible aortic heart valve, is put into place using a catheter that can be inserted through the leg and threaded up to the heart.  Once the catheter reaches the heart and diseased valve, the valve is then expanded with a balloon. The catheter is then retracted, leaving the balloon inflated and the aortic valve open and functioning.

“This new type of technique and valve allow us to offer a life-saving and quality of life improving treatment to numerous patients who would otherwise have endured a high risk of complications, the need for a heart-lung machine, or worse, no treatment at all,” said Timothy Mixon, MD, interventional cardiologist at Scott & White Memorial Hospital – Temple.

Scott & White is the only hospital between Dallas and Austin to offer the TAVR procedure after receiving approval from Edwards Lifesciences, the creators of the Edwards SAPIEN transcatheter heart valve, in May 2012.  Since approval, Scott & White has performed 27 procedures.  Until recently, TAVR was considered an experimental therapy and was only available at 21 institutions in the United States.  Once approved by the FDA in November 2011, Scott & White recognized the need to provide this therapy to patients in Central Texas.

“Being able to provide TAVR is a great example of the collaborative care model we use here at Scott & White,” said Alejandro Arroliga, MD, chairman for the Department of Internal Medicine at Scott & White Memorial Hospital – Temple. “This procedure reinforces our team approach concept, as it requires our cardiac surgeons, interventional cardiologists, cardiac anesthesiologists and cardiac imaging specialists, along with numerous support staff including nurses and technologists, who all work together from the start of the process until the end.”

About Scott & White Healthcare (sw.org)
Scott & White Healthcare is a non-profit collaborative health care system established in 1897 in Temple, Texas.  Among the leading health systems encompassing one of the nation’s largest multi-specialty group practices, Scott & White provides personalized, comprehensive health care enhanced by medical education and research.  Scott & White Healthcare includes 12 acute care hospital sites, one emergency hospital site, two additional announced facilities, and over 140 clinics at more than 70 primary care and specialty clinic locations throughout Central Texas providing adult and pediatric care in 46 medical specialties.  Integrated, high-quality care is delivered by a dedicated staff of more than 14,000 (including approximately 1,200 physicians and scientists and more than 300 specialized health care providers). Get the latest news from Scott & White Healthcare by visiting our news blog or on Twitter (@swhealthcare).

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