Groundbreaking Valve Surgery at Walker Heart Institute

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A new type of heart valve replacement surgery is being performed at Washington Regional’s Walker Heart Institute. TAVR literally means transcatheter aortic valve replacement, also known as TAVI transcatheter aortic valve implantation.

“Traditional the options available for people who had severe aortic stenosis was open heart surgery.” Dr.  Zubaid Ahmed is a Cardiologist with The Vein Clinic at Walker Heart Institute. “A lot of time it was a big procedure with a lot of morbidity and mortality associated with it. And over the years things had gotten where it could be done safely but it was still an invasive procedure. ” 

Dr. Ahmed says for some people open heart surgery is simply not an option. “So these are patients who are relatively elderly and have a lot of other health issues besides the aortic stenosis. A lot of times they have kidney problems. They have lung issues. They’ve had a stroke or cancer and radiation therapy. That makes surgery challenging.”

In order to help patients who needed the aortic valve replacement doctors had to come up with a different way to get the new valve in place.

“So we developed procedures which can be done percutaneously where we access the groin to get to the heart and get through the tightened valve and deliver an artificial valve. The new valve pushed the old valve out of the way and the new valve takes over the function. “

“A minimally invasive way of replacing the stenotic valve in done with a minimally invasive procedure”

To determine who is a candidate for the new valve replacement Walker Heart Institute has created a Valve Team which includes Interventional Cardiologists, Surgeons, and the Valve Coordination. Dr. Ahmed says “so it is a team decision to deem the next best option available for those patients.”

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