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New Heart Surgery Method Performed

By Amanda Brannon
Published On: Jul 24 2012 05:12:16 PM CDT
Updated On: Jul 24 2012 09:12:13 PM CDT
GREENVILLE -

A team of surgeons in Eastern Carolina have successfully performed a less invasive form of heart surgery during a clinical trial at the East Carolina Heart Institute in Greenville. It's the first procedure to be done in the Carolinas.

The trans-catheter aortic valve replacement procedure, known as TAVR for short, is often performed by inserting the valve through an artery in the leg. However, it can also be inserted through a small incision in the chest that goes directly into the tip of the heart.

The valve is connected to a device and the doctor steers the valve into the heart using X-RAY guidance.

Unlike normal open heart surgeries patients do not need to be on a heart and lung machine during the procedure and they won't be left with a large incision marks. The new procedure also drastically reduces recovery time.

Dr. Curtis Anderson, a cardiac surgeon who was involved in successful surgery on June 20, said the procedure has not been FDA approved yet and is available only to elderly high risk patients who would have difficulty with the open heart surgery option. 

"You insert the valve inside the diseased valve and deploy it or open up the valve and it pushes the valve out of the way and in fact it's the calcium in their valve that actually anchors the valve in place and holds it. It fixes the aortic stenosis sorta instantaneously," Dr. Anderson said.

So far, they have successfully completed twelve cases by inserting the valve through the leg. There have been two successful cases by inserting the valve through the chest.