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Complex Cardiovascular Procedures Utilizes New Technology Revolutionary New Heart Procedure at CHRISTUS Spohn Offers Hope for At-Risk Patients June 5, 2018

For many older heart patients, available options for surgery start to shrink with age, but a revolutionary new procedure at the CHRISTUS Spohn Heart Institute is giving new hope to many living with valvular heart disease.

It’s called the transcarotid approach for TAVR (Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement). While a traditional heart valve replacement requires open-heart surgery, the standard TAVR valve enters through the femoral artery in the groin and places a compact new valve within the old and diseased valve. However, some patients are too high risk for this option. As patients age or due to a pre-existing condition, their arteries are unable to accept the tiny tube and valve.

The transcarotid approach utilizes an alternative site, entering through an artery in the neck, and is already bringing life-saving results to patients who previously had no other options.

Dr. Travis Taylor of Coastal Cardiology is leading the way on the new procedure, after moving to South Texas from Indianapolis. The young and talented interventional cardiologist was surprised to learn that a relatively routine heart procedure where he trained at St. Vincent Heart Center was not offered here in Texas.

“The TAVR procedure offers patients who are too old or sick for conventional open heart surgery - a less invasive option. It is currently approved for patients at intermediate or high surgical risk, and could soon become the norm for even low risk patients, getting them back to living an active lifestyle sooner,” Dr. Taylor explained.

A recent patient had leg arteries that would not accommodate the size of the necessary tubes due to cholesterol plaque that narrowed the area where blood could flow. The patient’s subclavian artery in the shoulder is typically the surgeon’s second choice, but the patient had a bypass graft coming from that location, which could be damaged during the procedure. Dr. Taylor then decided to proceed with entering through the carotid artery in the neck.

Dr. Mark Morales helped to provide access to the carotid artery using a small incision, while Dr. Srikanth Damaraju and Dr. Taylor then worked together to position the heart valve into the proper location and deploy it. The whole procedure took less than 45 minutes for the Heart Team.

According to a medical device representative for Medtronic®, this was the first self-expanding heart valve replacement performed through the carotid artery in Texas. Several representatives from the company were present for the procedure and have since performed a similar procedure in Houston.

Dr. Taylor says he is excited to provide this life-saving option for at-risk heart patients, and would not be able to do it without the skilled clinicians at the CHRISTUS Spohn Heart Institute.

“I do the vast majority of my procedures at CHRISTUS Spohn-Shoreline because the nurses, technologists, anesthesiologists, and hospitalists are among some of the most well-trained and caring professionals with whom I have ever worked. As we transition into doing more complex cardiovascular procedures which utilize new technology, it is of utmost importance to me that I surround myself with a team that is as dedicated to lifelong learning as I am,” Dr. Taylor added. “I can't wait to see what the future holds for us.”

To learn more about the CHRISTUS Spohn Heart Institute, please visit: