December 11, 2017 – Last week, St. Mary’s Medical Center performed its first-ever Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR), a heart procedure without open heart surgery. The complicated effort took the highly skilled and dedicated team at St. Mary’s a full year to perform. Here’s more:

“Just four letters — T, A, V, R — are generating a buzz of excitement at St. Mary’s Medical Center.

St. Mary’s is set this week to begin performing the cutting-edge, life-changing heart procedure called TAVR. TAVR is short for Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement.

The procedure uses a wide-ranging team of medical specialists who take part in the tightly choreographed implantation of an artificial valve inside a patient’s heart — without a patient having to undergo open-heart surgery.

TAVR requires only a tiny incision, or sometimes just a needle stick, in the femoral artery of the groin or, less commonly, in the chest. A valve is threaded through a catheter in the artery. It is put in place using multiple imaging modalities so physicians have a clear view into the heart. The tight choreography of the procedure also very briefly involves rapidly increasing the heart rate so the valve can be properly placed.

‘Every step in the approximately 45-minute procedure must be done in careful sequence,’ said Cindy Shanklin, RN, clinical nurse manager of cardiac services at St. Mary’s.

‘Everyone’s awareness and attention to every detail is very important,’ Shanklin added. ‘Following every step is very crucial to the procedure.'”

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Photo courtesy St. Mary’s Medical Center.