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With New Transapical Technique, More Patients Can Benefit from Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) - Archived

Now with a second point of access, surgeons are able to replace diseased heart valves in patients who cannot tolerate open-heart surgery.

LANGHORNE, Pa., January 29, 2014 – Thanks to an additional method for transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), more heart patients are able to take advantage of this minimally invasive procedure being performed at the St. Mary Heart and Vascular Center. The transapical technique is used with patients whose leg arteries are too small or too fragile for the diseased heart valve to be replaced using the original transfemoral access point.

When cardiologists first began performing TAVR at St. Mary Medical Center in April 2012, they had only one route through the body to access and replace the diseased heart valve: via a small incision in the patient’s groin (known as transfemoral access). However, cardiothoracic surgeons now use this second access point — through a small incision in the patient’s chest wall between the ribs (known as transapical access) — in certain individuals who may not be suitable for the transfemoral technique.

“Transapical TAVR allows us to extend this life-saving procedure to patients who previously would not have been a candidate for TAVR due to poor vascular access,” says David Drucker, MD, a board-certified specialist in interventional cardiology. “Our surgeons have embraced it, and our outcomes so far are excellent.”

“Open-heart surgery to replace the diseased heart valve is one treatment option for aortic stenosis when it advances to a critical stage. However, certain patients are not suitable candidates for open-heart surgery due to their age, co-existing medical conditions, or other factors. TAVR can be an excellent option for these individuals,” says George Heyrich, MD, a board-certified interventional cardiologist and medical team lead for TAVR at St. Mary Medical Center.

Richboro resident Mary Kutsubos, 79, had the TAVR transapical procedure done at St. Mary last summer. In less than a week after the procedure, she was home from the hospital and feeling better than she had in years.

“My experience at St. Mary and with the TAVR procedure was wonderful. Everything went so smoothly, and I am very happy with all the doctors and nurses involved in my care. I am surprised at how great I feel now. Before the procedure, it was hard to breathe, walk, and even talk because I was always short of breath. But now, I can do all those things with ease — having TAVR changed my life,” says Kutsubos, who was excited to spend Christmas 2013 at her granddaughter’s house in New Jersey — something she has been unable to do for several years due to her health limitations.

Bernice Trantner, 86, of Hamilton, New Jersey, is another recent TAVR patient who says that she is “feeling fantastic” since having the procedure done.

“This was my first time being a patient at St. Mary Medical Center, and I have nothing but the greatest praise for the nurses and doctors who cared for me. My experience there was excellent,” says Trantner. Her cardiologist in New Jersey referred her to St. Mary because it is the only hospital near her to offer TAVR.

“St. Mary continues to grow in our region as a leader in heart care. We have a large dedicated team of heart-care experts working together for the health benefit of the community, with a long-term commitment by our doctors, nurses, and other staff members to offer a state-of-the-art program for the treatment of structural heart disease. We are so proud of the team itself and the patients who have come through the program. TAVR is just one of the many treatment advances we offer to improve overall care,” says Dr. Drucker.

TAVR is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of aortic stenosis, a potentially life-threatening progressive narrowing of the valve that controls blood flow to the heart

For information about TAVR and patient-eligibility guidelines, contact Elaine Flood, CRNP, TAVR Coordinator at St. Mary, at 215.710.6878 or eflood@stmaryhealthcare.org. For a referral to a St. Mary cardiologist, call 215.710.5888 or search the online medical staff directory at www.StMaryHealthcare.org/physicians.

To read St. Mary’s original announcement about TAVR, visit http://www.stmaryhealthcare.org/body.cfm?%20xyzpdqabc=0&id=555623&action=detail&ref=180.