In 2011, cardiothoracic surgeons at Lee Health performed a new life changing heart procedure called TAVR. Today, more than 500 TAVR procedures have been done.
Dr. Brian Hummel, a cardiothoracic surgeon with Lee Health, says the minimally invasive heart procedure offers an alternative to traditional open heart surgery. “TAVR stands for trans catheter aortic valve replacement, and in essence we’re delivering a new valve at the end of a catheter. Traditionally, we would have to open the patient in some form, whether minimally invasively through the right chest or through the breast bone, we would have to put them on a heart monitoring machine, cut out the valve and sew in a new valve.”
TAVR not only lowers the possibility of infection, it also allows patients to leave the hospital within three days and return to their normal life within a few weeks. Originally, patients who qualify for TAVR have severe aortic stenosis. “The results have been so good with the catheter valves that the indications have been expanded by the FDA. So when we originally started this it was only the highest risk patient group, after assessment a couple of years into it, it was determined that we should be doing it for immediate risk patients which are more common, and now we’re part of a national study looking at the lowest risk patients for aortic valve replacement,” said Dr. Hummel.
He says in the last two years more than 200 TAVR procedures have been done at Lee Health. “Part of it is our population. We have elderly patients who the natural history of valve disease is that as we do age the aortic valve gets stiffer, it gets calcified and those are the patients that we are focused on,” said Dr. Hummel.
Prior to TAVR, patients ineligible for traditional open heart surgery had not effective long term treatment option, making TAVR an important and lifesaving procedure.
View More Health Matters video segments at LeeHealth.org/Healthmatters/
Lee Health in Fort Myers, FL is the largest network of health care facilities in Southwest Florida and is highly respected for its expertise, innovation and quality of care. For more than 100 years, we’ve been providing our community with personalized preventative health services and primary care to highly specialized care services and robotic assisted surgeries. Lee Health - Caring People. Inspiring Care.