The Heartbeat of Innovation

An 80-year-old man, for whom traditional surgery was not an option, is getting a healthier heart with a revolutionary type of heart valve replacement surgery. At Allegheny General Hospital (AGH) in Pittsburgh, transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) surgery requires only a small incision, which is less risky for elderly or other high-risk patients.

Cardiovascular surgeon, Robert Moraca, MD, Director of Thoracic Aortic and Arrhythmia Surgery, is able to insert this artificial heart valve through a catheter, without removing the damaged valve. High-risk patients with newly repaired hearts are living proof that this leading-edge surgery can lead to better health and potentially longer lives.

Minimally Invasive, yet Maximally Effective

When patients have damaged heart valves, their hearts have to work harder to pump blood, which can lead to heart failure. In the past, high-risk patients, especially older patients, would just have to endure the condition. Now, this minimally invasive TAVR procedure can be offered to more patients who don’t have other treatment options, potentially extending their lives. Other benefits include:

  • Less pain
  • Less scarring
  • Less blood loss
  • A shorter recovery period

How Does It Work?

The procedure involves a placement system to insert an aortic valve replacement without opening a patient’s chest. Instead, the deflated valve is:

  • Inserted through a small incision made in a patient’s upper thigh
  • Guided through a catheter into the femoral artery
  • Moved up to the position of the damaged heart valve 

Once the new valve is expanded, it pushes the old valve leaflets out of the way and the the replacement valve takes over the job of regulating blood flow.

Pioneering and Improving Surgical Techniques

TAVR is offered through Allegheny Health Network’s (AHN) Cardiovascular Institute at AGH in Pittsburgh and Saint Vincent Hospital in Erie. 

As pioneers in the use of this medical technology, AHN physicians have performed more than 600 TAVR surgeries since 2012. This is just one of a series of recent advances that have made heart valve repair and replacement more accessible and more effective for higher-risk patients.

“We have a constant drive for cutting-edge, innovative therapies such as TAVR and are proud to have been able to offer improved surgical options,” said David Lasorda, DO, Director of AGH Division of Interventional Cardiology.

Nationally Renowned Cardiac Care in Your Community

AHN’s Cardiovascular Institute is nationally renowned for its research and expertise in treating patients with a vast array of structural heart conditions. AHN’s interventional cardiologists perform minimally invasive (percutaneous) procedures that effectively treat these conditions, including:

  • Advanced structural heart disease
  • Valve leaks
  • Congenital heart defects
  • Malformations of the blood vessels in the heart
  • Patent foramen ovale (hole in the heart)

Innovative Solutions to Benefit Patients

AHN Cardiovascular Institute is the only heart attack receiving center in Western Pennsylvania accredited by the American Heart Association. By researching and executing advanced technologies and procedures, AHN physicians are able to:

  • Use sophisticated diagnostic tools to accurately detect structural heart disease  
  • Deliver care through a multidisciplinary approach, for the best possible outcome
  • Treat each patient with an individualized care plan, for specific symptoms and circumstances

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