University Hospital is first in San Antonio to perform innovative heart procedure

December 04, 2020

The Valve and Structural Heart Disease team at University Hospital has become the first in San Antonio to perform an innovative new type of the minimally invasive heart procedure called transcatheter aortic valve replacement, or TAVR. The transcaval TAVR, performed at University Hospital Thursday, expands access of TAVR for patients who would not traditionally be candidates for the procedure.

Dr. Ahmed A. Almomani, UT Health San Antonio interventional cardiologist and structural heart disease specialist, said “A significant number of people with aortic stenosis also have severe peripheral vascular disease. Some of them haven’t historically been candidates for a transfemoral TAVR, which uses the vessels in the groin to access the heart.”

These patients needed alternative access, which frequently includes a surgical cutdown and uses the vessels in the neck or the chest for TAVR. According to Almomani, transcaval access allows those patients to have their procedure performed through the groin, avoiding the risk, discomfort and recovery associated with more invasive types of treatment.

TAVR procedures use a catheter to replace a narrow heart valve that fails to open properly. That can drastically improve quality of life for patients without the need for more invasive open-heart surgery. In some cases, TAVRs are the only method of treatment for patients who are not candidates for open-heart surgery.

The transcaval procedure can also be an option for some patients who are not able to undergo the traditional TAVR procedure because of damage or lack of access to their femoral arteries. The transcaval TAVR bypasses the femoral and iliac arteries altogether and opens up the possibility for more patients to receive the help they need and improve their heart function. The availability of transcaval TAVR as a treatment option carries a lower risk of stroke and complications associated with other forms of alternative access.

“That’s the real benefit,” says Dr. Almomani. “More people now have access to a less invasive way of performing a transcatheter aortic valve replacement.”

University Hospital’s Cardiac Cath lab is accredited by the American Academy of Cardiologists. University Health is a repeat recipient of numerous awards and accreditations from the American Heart Association & American Stroke Association including:

  • Accredited Chest Pain Center
  • Get With The Guidelines-Stroke Gold Plus Award
  • Target: Stroke Elite Plus Award
  • Mission: Lifeline STEMI Receiving Center — Silver Achievement Award
  • Comprehensive Stroke Center (awarded by the Joint Commission and the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association)