WKHS Locations

Cardiologists Perform First Transcatheter Aortic Heart Valve Replacements at WK Heart & Vascular Institute


Interventional cardiologists have performed the first transcatheter aortic heart valve replacements (TAVR) using the Edwards SAPIEN Transcatheter Heart Valve at the Willis-Knighton Heart & Vascular Institute. The procedures were performed in the new hybrid suite, which integrates a surgical operating room with advanced imaging, allowing interventional cardiologists and cardiovascular surgeons to cooperate on procedures for patients who need advanced minimally invasive surgery as well as more complex surgeries like TAVR.

The TAVR procedure enables the placement of a balloon-expandable heart valve into the body with a tube-based delivery system (catheter). The valve is designed to replace a patient’s diseased native aortic valve without traditional open-chest surgery and while the heart continues to beat – avoiding the need to stop the patient’s heart and connect them to a heart-lung machine which temporarily takes over the function of the heart and the patient’s breathing during surgery (cardiopulmonary bypass).

“TAVR is truly an amazing procedure,” said Kathy Walker, director of the Heart & Vascular Institute. “Before the procedure the heart is barely pumping. Once the valve is replaced you can see the heart start to work properly again.”

For both inoperable and high-risk patients, the valve is approved to be delivered with the RetroFlex 3 Delivery System through an artery accessed through an incision in the leg (transfemoral procedure). For high-risk patients who do not have appropriate access through their leg artery, the valve is approved to be delivered with the Ascendra Delivery System via an incision between the ribs and then through the bottom end of the heart called the apex (transapical procedure).

The Edwards SAPIEN Transcatheter Heart Valve which is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is used on patients with severe symptomatic calcified native aortic valve stenosis who have been determined by a heart team that includes an experienced cardiac surgeon and cardiologist to be inoperable or high risk for open-chest surgery to replace their diseased aortic heart valve. Patients who are candidates for this procedure must not have other conditions that would make them too sick to experience the expected benefit from fixing their aortic stenosis (AS).