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Penrose-St. Francis Health Services has stepped up its game with the addition of Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) to its repertoire of cardiothoracic surgical options. Penrose-St. Francis is part of the Centura Heart Health and Vascular Network, the region’s leading provider of cardiovascular care.
TAVR is a newly developed technology used to treat aortic stenosis, which occurs when the heart’s aortic valve narrows, obstructing blood flow to the rest of the body and causing eventual heart failure. During the procedure, a bioprosthetic valve is inserted percutaneously, via a needle puncture in the groin, and implanted in the heart through a catheter.
“Only 120 sites nationwide have been approved to perform this procedure,” said John Frederick, MD, a cardiothoracic surgeon at Penrose-St. Francis. “We are the only site in southern Colorado and the first in the state to offer the Medtronic CoreValve platform."
Penrose-St. Francis started the application process to bring TAVR to Colorado Springs in the Summer of 2011, and its surgeons underwent intensive training around the country at Columbia, Emory, and Baylor universities. Surgeons performed the first implant at Penrose Hospital in March of 2013. “It’s a new paradigm in cardiovascular interventions because it’s the first truly multi-disciplinary procedure where interventional cardiologists and cardiac surgeons work hand-in-hand.” This “Heart Team” approach also applies to the patient’s preoperative workup as well. Patients are evaluated by surgeons, interventional cardiologists, and echocardiographers, and then discussed in a group setting to provide a consensus plan of care that is individualized for each patient.
The procedure is performed in a state-of-the-art operating suite referred to as a ‘hybrid room” which combines the technology of a catheterization laboratory and a traditional operating room.
By the end of 2014, Penrose-St. Francis surgeons had performed more than 50 implants, with a higher success rate than most reported series from other institutions. This is significant, considering the surgery has only been performed on the highest-risk patients – many of which travel from southern Colorado and New Mexico.
“Right now, the procedure is only approved for non-operable or high-risk candidates, but we anticipate being able to extend TAVR to those who fall into the intermediate-risk category soon. This will substantially increase number of patients we can treat,” Dr. Frederick said.