UAB Medicine News


UAB Valve Program Expands with New Clinic, Life-Saving Procedure

The UAB Comprehensive Valve Program has expanded as of May 2012 to include a new clinic that specializes in treating patients with aortic valve disease. The clinic will offer a new, ground-breaking procedure:  transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), a minimally invasive treatment option for patients with severe aortic stenosis (hardening of the aortic valve) who do not qualify for traditional open heart surgery.

"Patients who have severe aortic stenosis have a 50% 1.5- to 2-year survival without treatment," says James E. Davies, Jr., MD, cardiac surgeon. "The three main symptoms of aortic stenosis are shortness of breath, chest pain, and syncope (loss of consciousness)."

According to Massoud A. Leesar, MD, chief of Interventional Cardiology, approximately 30% of aortic stenosis sufferers are unable to have surgery due to age or other factors. TAVR is less invasive than traditional open heart surgery and involves replacing the aortic valve via a catheter.

"The procedure not only adds years to our patients' lives, but life to their years," says Leesar. "Patients who undergo this therapy experience a much higher quality of life."

Currently, UAB's physicians are the only ones in Alabama who have been trained to offer TAVR. Davies says the team is on schedule to perform its first TAVR surgery in early August.

"We have the expertise in cardiac surgery and cardiology, as well as a hybrid operating room (a combined OR and cath lab)," Davies says. "We feel that because of this and the fact that we perform more valve procedures than anyone in the state, we are the most equipped to do this new procedure."

In addition to offering TAVR, the UAB Comprehensive Valve Program provides aortic and mitral valve treatment, offering interventional and surgical treatment options including valvuloplasty, valve replacement surgery, robotic valve repair, valve-sparing aortic root replacement, and the Ross Procedure. In addition, UAB "is the most equipped and experienced facility in the state for treating and managing adults with congenital valve disease," Davies says.

The new valve clinic—as well as the entire Valve Program—brings together a multidisciplinary team of interventional cardiologists, cardiac surgeons, and expert staff.

Learn more about UAB's most innovative, life-saving heart procedures, and about UAB's Heart & Vascular Services.

To make an appointment with UAB, call Healthfinder at 205-934-9999.