Jewish Hospital performs first in Kentucky awake heart valve replacement procedure

Published on March 9, 2015

The TAVR (transcatheter aortic-valve replacement) procedure, which repairs the heart valve in those not well enough to undergo open heart surgery, can now be done without general anesthesia, thanks to new advances available at Jewish Hospital, part of KentuckyOne Health. 

The first TAVR in Kentucky using conscious sedation was performed at Jewish Hospital on December 11, 2014. The Valve Team at Jewish Hospital performed the procedure on a 76-year old, female patient. The patient is recovery well. 

Conscious sedation, in lieu of general anesthesia, makes for quicker recovery times, shortened hospital stays and cost savings.

During the TAVR procedure, a cardiologist and cardiothoracic surgeon work together to implant the new heart valve, called the Edwards SAPIEN valve, which is made from cow tissue and developed by Edwards Lifesciences. 

The valve is inserted into the body through a small cut in the leg. Once delivered to the site of the patient's diseased valve, the Edwards SAPIEN valve is expanded with a balloon and immediately functions in place of the patient's valve.

The procedure allows for valve replacement without traditional open heart surgery and while the heart is beating, therefore avoiding cardiopulmonary bypass.  It is the only valve replacement option for patients with severe aortic stenosis who are not well enough to undergo traditional open heart surgery.  Most patients will avoid any surgery in their chest.

“The TAVR procedure is often a qualifying patient’s last hope for treatment of heart valve disease. Now being able to offer this unique procedure without the need for general anesthesia will improve patient outcomes even further.” said Dr. Kendra Grubb, assistant professor of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery, director of Minimally Invasive Cardiac Surgery at the University of Louisville, and a cardiovascular and thoracic surgeon at UofL Physicians. 

“We are proud to once again be on the cutting edge of cardiovascular treatment options in the region,” said Dr. Michael Flaherty, assistant professor of Medicine, director of Adult Structural Heart disease at the University of Louisville, and a cardiologist at UofL Physicians.

Jewish Hospital has long been home to many medical firsts in the field of heart care, including the first adult open heart surgery in Kentucky in 1965, the state’s first heart transplant in 1984, the world’s first and second AbioCor® implantable replacement heart procedures in 2001 and Kentucky’s first TAVR procedure in 2012.