– Surgeons and interventional cardiologists at the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute
recently performed their 1,000th transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), making them the first heart program in the region to reach this clinical milestone.
The minimally invasive TAVR
procedure is used to treat patients with aortic stenosis, a narrowing of the heart’s aortic valve that can lead to debilitating symptoms, such as shortness of breath, lightheadedness and fatigue or shortened lifespan.
During the procedure, an artificial valve is implanted through a catheter, which is inserted through a large artery in the patient’s leg or chest, eliminating the need for open-heart surgery. The procedure is performed in a specialized hybrid operating room that allows for maximum collaboration between surgeons and interventional cardiologists.
“Since beginning to perform the surgery in 2011, UPMC physicians continue to be one of the most innovative and experienced TAVR teams in the country,” said Tom Gleason, M.D., chief of adult cardiac surgery at the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute. “Not every patient is well-suited for open-heart surgery, and this procedure provides them with another option for aortic valve replacement, with the added benefits of a shorter hospital stay and a faster recovery.”
Previously, TAVR was used only if a patient was considered inoperable or high-risk for a traditional valve replacement, but the procedure recently received approval for intermediate-risk patients. TAVR also can be used to replace degenerating or failing bioprosthetic aortic valves, eliminating the need for those patients to have a second open-heart surgery.
“Aortic stenosis can interfere with daily activities as basic as walking,” said Dustin Kliner, M.D., interventional cardiologist at the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute. “This procedure can lengthen and greatly improve the quality of a patient’s life, getting them back to the activities that they enjoy most.”