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SEATTLE – (Nov. 14, 2014) – Virginia Mason has added transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), a minimally invasive alternative to open-heart surgery, to its array of advanced cardiac procedures.

TAVR is an option for patients with severe aortic stenosis (a narrowing of the heart valve opening that can cause heart failure) for whom traditional open-chest surgery is too risky because of their health status or other factors.

“Patients with aortic stenosis often are elderly and have other medical problems,” said cardiologist Drew Baldwin, MD, of the Virginia Mason Heart Institute. “Certain patients may be at high risk for complications if they have open-heart surgery to replace the aortic valve, so TAVR may be a better option for them.”

This potentially life-saving procedure is performed with general anesthesia in the hybrid suite of the new Virginia Mason Surgery Center that opened in September. The hybrid operating room features both catheterization and surgical capabilities. There, interventional cardiologists, heart surgeons, cardiac anesthesiologists and imaging specialists work together during the TAVR procedure, utilizing fluoroscopy and echocardiography as they guide the replacement valve into place.

TAVR is performed on a beating heart and does not require cardiopulmonary bypass. It uses one of two minimally invasive approaches, allowing the cardiologist or surgeon to choose the approach that provides the best and safest way to access the patient’s damaged valve: Entering through the femoral artery (large artery in the groin) or entering through a small incision in the chest. During the procedure, a compressed-tissue heart valve is placed on a balloon catheter and positioned directly inside the weakened aortic valve. Once in position, the balloon inflates and secures the new valve in place. The replacement valve is supported with a metal stent.

The potential benefits of TAVR include shorter hospital stays and faster recovery from surgery, Dr. Baldwin said. A patient may remain in the hospital for up to three weeks following traditional open-heart surgery to repair a heart valve. By comparison, TAVR patients often go home within a few days.

Learn more about TAVR from the American Heart Association

About Virginia Mason
Virginia Mason, founded in 1920, is a nonprofit regional health care system in Seattle that serves the Pacific Northwest. Virginia Mason employs 6,000 people and includes a 336-bed acute-care hospital; a primary and specialty care group practice of more than 460 physicians; regional medical centers throughout the Puget Sound area; and Bailey-Boushay House, the first skilled-nursing and outpatient chronic care management program in the U.S. designed and built specifically to meet the needs of people with HIV/AIDS. Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason is internationally recognized for its breakthrough autoimmune disease research. Virginia Mason was the first health system to apply lean manufacturing principles to health care delivery to eliminate waste, lower cost, and improve quality and patient safety. Virginia Mason website:

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Media Contact:
Gale Robinette
Virginia Mason Media Relations
(206) 341-1509

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