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WellStar Performs First Percutaneous
Aortic Valve Replacement Surgeries
First Non-Academic Facility in Georgia with commercially-available and FDA-approved device.
The SAPIEN Transcatheter Heart Valve, by Edwards Lifesciences.

In a multidisciplinary approach to cardiac care that is synonymous with the WellStar Cardiovascular Network, four physicians - two heart surgeons and two interventional cardiologists - performed two successful percutaneous aortic valve replacement surgeries on Thursday, May 17 at WellStar Kennestone Hospital. These procedures offer an alternative for patients who previously were unable to have traditional aortic valve replacement due to co-morbidities or other issues.

During these surgeries, the replacement valve, called the Edwards SAPIEN transcatheter heart valve and developed by Edwards Lifesciences, was passed through a hole in the groin and advanced up to the patient’s heart. It substitutes for a much more invasive procedure in which the chest has to be opened in order to replace the valve.

"These collaborative efforts between cardiology and cardiac surgery are a new paradigm for innovative therapies and transformative care delivery for patients who might not qualify for traditional valve surgery," according to Dr. Arthur Reitman, Medical Director for Cardiac Catheterization and Dr. William Cooper, Medical Director for Cardiac Surgery for WellStar Health System. "WellStar's highly integrated physician network forms the foundation for this patient-centered, comprehensive approach to structural heart disease."

The team of physicians who participated in the two surgeries included interventional cardiologists Dr. Reitman and Amar Patel, M.D., and heart surgeons William A. Cooper, M.D. and Richard Myung, M.D. Echocardiographer Sarita Kansal, M.D. and cardiac anesthesiologist Matt Grabowski, M.D. also participated. Both patients had successful procedures and are recovering at WellStar Kennestone Hospital.

The aortic valve is one of the valves of the heart that allows blood to exit the left ventricle. When diseased the valve does not fully open and may need to be replaced. Until recently, it was done via open heart surgery which requires a large incision or cutting through the entire breastbone. A patient’s age, other medical conditions and general health sometime precludes them from having open heart surgery.

The Edwards SAPIEN transcatheter heart valve received FDA approval for the treatment of certain inoperable patients in November 2011.

In this minimal incision valve surgery, the surgeon gains access to the heart through one smaller, less visible incision in the groin.

"These procedures mark a pivotal moment in the ongoing evolution of expanding cardiovascular services available to the WellStar community," said Drs. Reitman and Cooper. "These efforts were initiated with cardiac surgery and angioplasty programs at WellStar Kennestone Hospital in December 2004."