New Minimally Invasive Valve Replacement Procedure Helps High-Risk Patients
As our bodies age, our muscles, organs and other systems become more prone to disease or failure. Aortic stenosis, the narrowing and hardening of the aortic valve, is one of the more common and serious heart problems many people experience as they age. Although surgical replacement of the valve can treat the problem, it can also be strenuous on those who are at a higher risk of complications or
who may have other severe health problems.
Luckily, just over three years ago the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a new valve replacement procedure that is minimally invasive and available at Kootenai Heart Clinics Northwest.
“The way aortic stenosis is TAVR most commonly treated involves open-heart surgery,” said Stephen Thew, M.D., Interventional Cardiologist with Kootenai Heart Clinics Northwest. “Because this disease occurs mostly in older patients, we needed a less invasive procedure for this higher risk population. We now have that with TAVR.”
TAVR (transcatheter aortic valve replacement) allows a new valve to be inserted through a catheter rather than via open-heart surgery. The new valve is inserted within the diseased valve, allowing it to function properly. The catheter is typically inserted through the leg,
but it can also be inserted through the arm or chest. These options allow Dr. Thew and his team to determine which entry point is safest for the patient. The total procedure typically lasts about an hour.
Dr. Thew said the recovery process is easier, and most patients are able to go home and resume their normal daily activities just two or three days after the procedure.
“Patients who undergo this procedure aren’t limited in their activity afterward,” he said. “We’ve even had some patients say they felt comfortable enough to go play a round of golf a few days after surgery.”
Eric Wallace, D.O., recently joined Kootenai Heart Clinics and is the first physician in the region to have gone through a formal training program for structural heart disease, including the placement of TAVRs.
“This procedure allows us to help those that are too high-risk for surgery,” he said.
The extensive preoperative screening and evaluation process involves a number of different tests and physician evaluations.
“Our patients have a team of physicians working with them,” Dr. Wallace said. “We meet as a group to help develop the best treatment strategy for each individual patient, whether that means the TAVR procedure or surgery.”
Dr. Thew and Dr. Wallace can see TAVR patients for their preoperative screening, testing and follow-up visits in both the Spokane and Coeur d’Alene locations.