SMC Completes 100th TAVR

November 11, 2014


SMC was First & still the ONLY location for Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement Procedure in Mobile
     As Springhill Medical Center marks its 100th Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement procedure today, one local resident who was among the 100 cases at Springhill celebrates his good health and improved quality of life.
     Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement, or TAVR, is a technology that allows for the replacement of the aortic valve by way of inserting a prosthetic valve via a catheter through an artery in the leg or chest incision.  Until 2011, open heart surgery was the only option to repair one’s aortic valve.  In 2012, less than a year later, physicians at Cardiology Associates and surgeons at Cardio-Thoracic and Vascular Surgical Associates began to jointly evaluate patients in a special heart valve clinic to confirm necessity of this procedure.  These physicians and Springhill Medical Center were the first to introduce this innovative technology ot the area using a specially designed hybrid heart cath lab.  SMC was only the second site in the state of Alabama to offer it, and one of only a few in the entire country and the only one in Mobile where it’s being offered.
     When a person’s aortic valve becomes calcified (also called aortic stenosis) blood is restricted from leaving the heart.  Aortic stenosis is seen in large part in older adults who are often not candidates for traditional open heart surgery.  An aortic stenosis patient is typically around age 75.  During the TAVR procedure the diseased valve is replaced resulting in a patient typically living longer and feeling better.
    Mr. Joe Kress knows first-hand what it’s like to go through the TAVR procedure, but he had to wait many years from the time he was first diagnosed with a bad valve to the time he was recommended for surgery.  He waited a little while longer once he heard about TAVR for the procedure he needed to receive FDA approval.  He addressed his aortic stenosis diagnosis in July of this year. 
      “I’m glad I waited,” he said. “I didn’t particularly want anyone cracking open my chest. This procedure sure saved me a lot of pain.”
    The New Jersey native who has called Mobile home for 20 years now, said the procedure went so well, he was “at Sonny’s having a turkey sandwich just two days later.  To this day, I feel great!”
    In fact, he and another TAVR patient and his neighbor, Mr. John Kramer, play golf together each week. Both men are in their mid to late 80s.
    Dr. John Galla of Cardiology Associates said the procedure is minimally invasive, requires a hospital stay of typically only 2 to 7 days, and recovery time is such that patients are basically back to doing what they want to do almost instantaneously.