News

Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement Procedure is Now Available

Procedure is an alternative to open heart surgery for intermediate or high risk surgical patients

University Medical Center New Orleans is pleased to announce the launch of Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR), a treatment for aortic stenosis, one of the most common and most serious valve disease problems.

University Medical Center is now one of only six hospitals offering the TAVR procedure in Louisiana. Pedro Cox-Alomar MD, an LSU Health New Orleans Interventional Cardiologist and director of the UMC Structural Heart Valve Program, led a team that performed the hospital’s first  three TAVR procedures on July 17th and 18th.

“TAVR offers an effective and less invasive alternative to open heart surgery for many patients, especially those who are at risk for complications during surgery,” Cox-Alomar said.

Aortic stenosis is the narrowing of the aortic valve that prevents normal blood flow and makes the heart work harder. It is generally caused by birth defects, rheumatic fever, radiation therapy or calcium build-up on the aortic valve leaflets.

Over time,  the leaflets become stiff, which reduces the ability of the valve to fully open and close. When the leaflets can’t properly open, the heart works harder to push blood through the aortic valve. This results in less oxygen rich blood to flow from the lungs to the brain and the rest of your body, which may cause certain symptoms, including chest pain, fatigue, shortness of breath, lightheadedness or difficulty when exercising. However, heart valve disease may not always show outward symptoms and may be misunderstood by patients as “normal” signs of aging.

TAVR uses a catheter to implant a new valve into a patients diseased valve, most commonly through a small incision in the leg. Once the replacement valve is in place it begins to regulate blood flow to and from the heart.

As an alternative to open heart surgery, TAVR may be preferred by patients who are at intermediate or greater risk for complications during surgery. TAVR also allows for the patient to be under anesthesia for less time than with open heart surgery, which affects how quickly patients are discharged and reduces general recovery time.  Recovery is easier for TAVR patients because it is a less invasive procedure, and patients can be discharged a few days after undergoing a TAVR procedure.

The UMC Structural Heart Valve program is part of the UMC Heart Valve Program, which combines the expertise of Cardiology and Cardiac Surgery to provide a single destination for the complete and thorough evaluation and treatment of heart valve problems.

“UMC and LSU are privileged to participate in the PARTNER III Trial as a contributor to the Underrepresented Populations Registry,” said Dr. Frank Smart, Professor and Chief of Cardiology at LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine and  Director of the UMC Cardiovascular Services. “This clinical trial looks at the use of TAVR in low surgical risk patients. Additionally, UMC is using their experience to help other Aortic Stenosis patients with the standard indication for TAVR which is being intermediate or high risk for a surgically implanted valve. Speaking for the physicians and surgeons at UMC, we are grateful for the support of our legislators and hospital administration for  advancing this exciting initiative.”

For more information on TAVR and open-heart surgery at UMC, go to www.UMCNO.org/heart-vascular.