Photo:The Edwards SAPIEN Valve replaces a patient's aortic valve.
An alternative to open-heart surgery originally designed for older and sicker people gains traction among a wider range of patients.
Cardiologists at Pensacola-based Baptist Heart & Vascular Institute are among a select group of surgeons in Northwest Florida who perform a procedure known as Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement.
In the procedure, surgeons implant the Edwards SAPIEN Valve to replace a patient’s aortic valve. The Edwards valve, approved by the FDA in 2011, was originally meant for patients with a severe aortic blockage (stenosis) who were either too weak or too elderly for open-heart surgery.
Since then, however, the procedure has become available to a broader range of patients with stenosis, including many who could tolerate open-heart surgery but see advantages in the less invasive TAVR procedure.
“Most patients, if given the opportunity of having the TAVR procedure and spending a day or two in the hospital or having open-heart surgery with a six-week recovery, will choose TAVR,” says Baptist Health Care interventional cardiologist Dr. Luther Carter.
Carter is on a team of surgeons at Baptist Health Care that has performed more than 220 transcatheter procedures. In addition to Baptist Health Care, Sacred Heart Health System in Pensacola and Tallahassee Memorial Heathcare also offer the procedure in Northwest Florida.
The procedure is not without risks, Carter adds. “The Edwards SAPIEN valves don’t last forever, maybe 10 to 12 years,” says Carter.
“The long-term established data show that the stroke rate for patients undergoing TAVR is better, but unfortunately complications are encountered when a patient also has a pacemaker that’s already implanted.”
Read more in Florida Trend's January issue.
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