Buffalo General Medical Center/Gates Vascular Institute Celebrate Second Anniversary of Lifesaving Heart Procedure

Released: 1/15/2014

A patient luncheon was held this week to celebrate the second anniversary of the transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) - a lifesaving heart procedure for patients previously deemed inoperable.  

Nearly fifty of the seventy-one patients who received TAVR were present to commemorate their second chance at life.  The age range for TAVR recipients has been 62 to 95 years.  Also in attendance were seven World War II veterans and two Korean War vets.

In January, 2011, Buffalo General Medical Center/Gates Vascular Institute were chosen to be the first (and still the only) facility in Western New York to perform TAVR; a minimally invasive cardiac surgical procedure in which an artificial (bovine tissue) aortic heart valve is attached to a wire frame and guided through the femoral artery in the thigh by catheter to the heart.  Once in place, the wire frame enlarges, which allows the new valve to pump blood appropriately. 

Due to the program’s enormous success, the TAVR program has expanded from one TAVR access site (femoral artery) to three, with the addition of the transapical (TA) and most recently, the transaortic (TAO) approaches; both new alternatives for patients ineligible for transfemoral TAVR.  In short, these programs are tangibly saving lives. 

In the transapical approach, a small incision is made under the left breast and a catheter is threaded through the left ventricle to access and replace the aortic valve.  

The transaortic approach is performed by making a small incision near the center of the chest and feeding the catheter directly into the ascending aorta to insert the new valve.