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Alternative treatments to open-heart surgery

Posted at 10:57 AM, Apr 24, 2017

Spectrum Health's Structural Heart and Valve Clinic is constantly bringing groundbreaking advances to valvular heart disease treatments over the years. Thanks to these advancements in medicine and technology, there are better ways to operate on patients with heart problems without having to perform open-heart surgery.

Dr. Stephane Leung, a cardiothoracic surgeon at Spectrum Health Structural Heart and Valve Center, discusses new treatment options available that are safer for patients.

Spectrum Health Structrual Heart and Valve Clinic diagnoses and treats cardiovscular disease as well as other heart conditions using catheter-based procedures, a minimally invasive approach. Open-heart surgery is a more risky procedure, so it's better to treat patients with alternative surgeries like transcather valve replacement (TAVR) and other clinical trial treatments.

TAVR works to replace the diseased aortic valved and is replaced with an artificial valve. The procedure channels a catheter (a thin tube) with a prosthetic valve through an artery in the groin or shoulder to reach the heart without open-heart surgery or surgical removal of the native valve.

Patients diagnosed with aortic stenosis require this surgery. Aortic stenosis happens when the aortic valve narrows and doesn't open all the way, restricting blood flow and causing the heart to work harder to pump blood.

Symptoms of aortic stenosis include:

  • Dizziness and fainting (due to exertion)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Angina when exerting oneself
  • Chest pain
  • Heart palpitations
  • Heart murmur

Another condition that Spectrum Health treats is mitral valve regurgitation, where the mitral valve fails to close completely and blood leaks backward inside the heart. If it remains untreated, it can lead to heart failure or arrhythmias.

Symptoms of mitral valve regurgitation include:

  • Heart murmur
  • Dyspnea with exertion or when lying down
  • Fatigue during times of increased activity
  • Heart palpitations

During the procedure, a catheter is inserted into the patient's groin and guided through the femoral vein to the affected area of the heart. The clip is then guided into place and attached to the leaflets of the mitral valve. The clip will grasp the leaflets creating a double orifice, reducing the degree mitral regurgitation.

After these surgeries, patients feel better right away thanks to improved blood flow, unlike open-heart surgery where it can take days or weeks to recover.

Spectrum Health Structural Heart and Valve Central is located on 100 Michigan Street Northeast in Grand Rapids. For more information call (616)-391-9415 or visit spectrumhealth.org.