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Open Heart Surgery Alternative Heart Procedure Making Difference for Patients

For about three years, an alternative to open heart surgery called transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) has been helping patients with severe aortic stenosis achieve a better quality of life.

Since May 2012, Scott & White Memorial Hospital – Temple has performed 103 TAVR procedures. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the therapy, which is less invasive and an option for patients who are not considered candidates for surgery, in November 2011.

“Since implementing this procedure we have seen hospitalization and recovery time decrease with patients being discharged in a few days with fewer complications,” said Mark Lawrence, MD, interventional cardiologist at Scott & White Memorial Hospital – Temple. “The valve technology continues to evolve and a number of patients, especially adults over the age of 70, can benefit from this less invasive technique.”

Aortic stenosis occurs when the aortic valve does not fully open or is narrowed, often due to calcium build-up, impairing how blood exits the heart. This condition affects up to 1.5 million Americans, of which about 250,000 suffer a severe form that causes shortness of breath, fainting spells, chest pain, and even sudden death. Without treatment, roughly half of the patients who experience symptoms could die within two years. In some patients who have many other complicated medical conditions, traditional open heart surgery either is not an option or very risky. TAVR is a less invasive alternative.

“Open heart surgery may not be suitable for older adults due to other health problems, or because they are quite frail, which prevents them from having open heart surgery,” said Chittoor Bhaskar Sai-Sudhakar, MD, director for the division of cardiothoracic surgery at Scott & White Memorial Hospital – Temple. “TAVR is an option that allows us to replace the aortic valve with a much less invasive procedure, helping the patient to recover faster.”

Scott & White Memorial Hospital – Temple is the only hospital between Dallas and Austin to offer the TAVR procedure after receiving approval from Edwards Lifesciences, creators of the Edwards SAPIEN transcatheter heart valve. After the FDA approval, Scott & White quickly recognized the need to provide the therapy to Central Texas patients.

“We believe that evidence-based medicine in combination with our collaborative model benefits patients that we serve,” said Stephen Sibbitt, MD, chief medical officer 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, to all work together from the start of the process until the end.”

For more information about TAVR at Scott & White Memorial Hospital – Temple, visit our website.

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