November 20, 2017 — On Nov. 15, Baylor Scott & White The Heart Hospital – Plano completed its 1,000th transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) procedure. Baylor Scott & White Heart – Plano was a pioneer in the development of TAVR.
Instead of traditional open heart surgery to treat aortic stenosis or a blockage of the main heart valve, TAVR is done with no incision, only a needle stick in the leg artery. The new aortic valve is threaded through an artery at the top of the leg under X-ray guidance to the patient's heart.
Today, the hospital's TAVR program is the busiest program in North Texas, the second largest in Texas and the 15th largest program in the U.S. Baylor Scott & White Heart – Plano performs almost 300 TAVR procedures annually. Baylor Scott & White Heart – Plano is ranked No. 16 nationally for cardiology and heart surgery in the U.S. News & World Report's rankings announced in July.
"Reaching this milestone in such a short amount of time means we've reached a level of expertise," said Molly Szerlip, MD, medical director of the inpatient and outpatient valve service, Baylor Scott & White Heart – Plano. "Some of the doctors on the medical staff were in the original trial for this technology in the U.S., and now we're the largest program in the Dallas-Fort-Worth Metroplex."
The Nov. 15 achievement's roots lie in Leipzig, Germany where Baylor Scott & White Heart – Plano TAVR team began research on the TAVR procedure with their German colleagues in 2001.
TAVR remains the preferred treatment for those with aortic valve stenosis who are high surgical risks, and more recently those with an intermediate risk, providing an option beyond traditional open surgery. Baylor Scott & White Heart – Plano has been a leader in the research trials that led to U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval of TAVR.
TAVR offers several potential advantages to patients when compared with traditional valve replacement surgery. The procedure time for TAVR is significantly shorter than traditional surgery, usually helping to reduce complications and speed recovery. Most patients undergoing the TAVR procedure are able to leave the hospital the same day, or the day after surgery.
"It's significant because it now lets us care for those patients who otherwise wouldn't have been able to be treated," Dr. Szerlip said. "Aortic stenosis is a potentially deadly disease, and it's predominantly in the elderly, who often are the patients at highest risk during surgery. We've shown that these elderly patients can undergo this procedure safely."
Physicians are members of the medical staff at one of Baylor Health Care System's subsidiary, community or affiliated medical centers and are neither employees nor agents of those medical centers, Baylor Scott & White The Heart Hospital – Plano or Baylor Health Care System.