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Friday, June 15, 2012 - Breakthrough TAVR Procedure now available: ‘Chest-cracking’ not needed for certain heart patients

What if a heart valve could be replaced without surgically opening the chest cavity? That “what if” is now a reality for some patients.

 FDA-approved in November 2011, the Edwards SAPIEN Transcatheter Heart Valve is the first biologic transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) therapy aprpoved for use in the U.S. Select hospitals are now performing the procedure on qualified patients. This transcatheter procedure enables the placement of a collapsible aortic heart valve into the body via a catheter-based delivery system, which allows the valve to be inserted via the femoral artery in the thigh. The valve is designed to replace a patient's diseased native aortic valve without traditional open-heart surgery and while the heart continues to beat - eliminating the need for cardiopulmonary bypass.

“For certain patients, a heart valve will be able to be replaced endovascularly using a wire,” said Dr. Chadwick Stouffer, a cardiothoracic surgeon. “Traditional surgery would require a large incision and dividing the breastbone. The risks and recovery time associated with TAVR are much less in comparison.”

To be eligible for the TAVR, patients must have severe aortic stenosis and be deemed not a candidate for traditional surgery.

Covenant Health has been selected as the only entity in Knoxville to have surgeons trained in the TAVR procedure by Edwards Lifesciences.

TAVR is short for Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement. TAVR is a percutaneous procedure recently proven to be an appropriate alternative to standard medical care (a combination of careful observation, medications and balloon aortic valvuloplasty.) TAVR is appropriate for select patients with severe aor­tic stenosis (narrowing of the aortic valve opening) who are not candidates for surgery and those who are at very high risk.

In the United States, TAVR continues to be studied as part of the PARTNER (Placement of Aortic Transcatheter Valves) trial which studied inoperable patients with severe symptomatic aortic stenosis. Compared to standard medical care, among the inoperable patients who had TAVR, the procedure reduced their absolute risk of dying by 20 percent. The risk of mortality decreased from 50 percent to 30 percent.

Dr. Mike Ayres, Dr. Thomas Pollard, Dr. Chad­wick Stouffer, and Dr. Nicholoas Xenopoulos are Covenant Health’s first physicians to be trained in TAVR.

To find out more about whether TAVR is right for you, call 541-4500 or visit www.covenanthealth.com/heartcare.

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100 Fort Sanders West Blvd.
Knoxville, TN 37922
(865) 374-1000