St. Luke’s Health – The Woodlands Hospital Achieves Milestone on Minimally-Invasive Heart Procedure

By: Vanessa Astros
| Published 12/07/2020

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THE WOODLANDS, TX - St. Luke’s Health – The Woodlands Hospital recently completed its 50th transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) procedure with a zero percent mortality rate since starting the program in the Fall 2019.

TAVR is a minimally invasive cardiac procedure for patients with aortic valve stenosis at low, intermediate or high risk for standard valve replacement surgery. The procedure, which repairs the abnormally narrow aortic valve without removing the damaged valve, is done through a very small incision (less than 1 cm) through the groin, rather than cutting through the breastbone, as is traditionally the case in open-heart surgery. Dr. Robert Aertker, an interventional cardiologist that leads a multidisciplinary heart valve team at The Woodlands Hospital, says that treating patients with TAVR often results in better outcomes, faster recovery times, and lower risks for complications.

“Aortic stenosis is a disease which calcifies and hardens the aortic valve. When that happens, the valve can’t open and close like it normally does,” said Aertker. “Unlike open-heart surgery, which previously was the only way to treat the disease, TAVR patients are treated faster and have quicker recovery times. According to recent trial data, TAVR has a lower rate of death, stroke, and rehospitalization compared to an open heart surgery approach. TAVR is now our go-to treatment option for patients with symptomatic, severe aortic stenosis.”

In an open-heart surgery, the old valve has to be removed and replaced. During a TAVR surgery, the old valve is pushed to the side when the new valve is inserted. TAVR is an inpatient procedure that takes approximately 45 minutes to complete. TAVR patients usually go home the next day and experience minimal scarring.

Until recently, TAVR procedures were deemed appropriate only for individuals at high risk for death or major complications associated with open-heart surgery. In August 2019, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) expanded indication for several transcatheter heart valves to include patients with severe aortic valve stenosis who are at low to moderate risk for major complications following open-heart surgery. That means more patients can be treated with this less invasive option that is both safe and effective.

The Woodlands Hospital continues to ramp up its TAVR surgery capabilities to meet the needs of the North Houston area and communities as far as Huntsville, Nacogdoches and even Bryan/College Station. The distinguished heart valve team at The Woodlands Hospital includes Dr. Mark Mettauer, a cardiothoracic surgeon who completed his cardiovascular surgery residency under the late Dr. Denton A. Cooley at Texas Heart Institute at Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center in Houston before beginning his practice in the North Houston community.

The Heart & Vascular Institute at The Woodlands Hospital is a respected leader in cardiovascular medicine serving the North Houston and Montgomery County communities. A team of community-based, board-certified cardiologists, electrophysiologists, heart failure specialists, cardiovascular surgeons, specialized nurses, and medical professionals use the latest advancements in the diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular disease right here in The Woodlands.

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