Albany Med performs 100th T.A.V.R. procedure

Posted at: 10/02/2013 5:40 PM
Updated at: 10/02/2013 5:55 PM
By: Benita Zahn

A milestone on Wednesday at Albany Medical Center.

The 100th so called T.A.V.R. procedure was done.

It's a valve replacement procedure for people who otherwise would be too frail for the operation.

NewsChannel 13 went into the O.R. to see the surgery, and share it with you.

Joe Mantaro, 81, had heart valve replacement a year ago.

Familiar with the rigors of recovering from open heart surgery he endured back in 2003, he was leery of more surgery. Because of his medical condition, doctors opted for a minimally invasive procedure called TAVR, or Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement.

“I've had knee replacement I've had shoulder replacement. This was the best operation ever,” said Mantaro.

Drs. Gus DeLago and Edward Bennett are part of the TAVR team that carefully evaluates patients for the surgery. They have to been too fragile medically, like Joe, for traditional surgery. According to Dr. DeLago, more than 400 patients were evaluated.

“In other words these were patients that were just having recurrent heart failure were, you know that's not an easy way to die. So we took people who weren't getting anything at all and now they're well,” said Dr. Bennett.

When the TAVR program started in December 2011 it was one of a handful in the U.S.

On October 2nd, as the team performed its 100th procedure on a 95-year-old Scotia woman, it's now in the top 5 and Dr. Delago points to a mortality rate about half the national average.

It works when a small incision is made either in the thigh or chest.

Doctors gain access to the valve area and then insert this blue device that acts like a highway to the heart.

The valve is encased in a metal stent. The unit will be collapsed and attached to a catheter. Together they'll be inserted into that highway and threaded to the heart. Once in place the stent is expanded and the repair is complete.

As for the valve being replaced, that will just be pushed aside when the stent with the replacement valve goes in.

The replacement valve is made from the lining of a cow's heart and it's hand-stitched onto the stent. Even though this is minimally invasive recovery in the hospital can take more than a week.

But Joe says, it's well worth it.

“It's a super, super procedure,” he says.

Wednesday's patient, Dorothy Wozniak, came through the surgery well. She says she's looking forward to getting back to taking regular walks and doing some shopping. We wish her the best.