COOKEVILLE – History has been made once again at Cookeville Regional Medical Center. The first transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) was performed there in February by interventional cardiologist Matthew Sample, M.D., and cardiothoracic surgeon Lewis Wilson, M.D. Other physicians on hand for the procedure were interventional cardiologist Stacy Brewington, M.D., and cardiothoracic surgeon Tim Powell, M.D.
The TAVR procedure is a minimally invasive alternative to open-heart surgery for severe aortic stenosis (narrowing of the aortic valve) for patients who qualify.
“The TAVR procedure is a great alternative for patients who aren’t able to undergo the traditional open-heart valve surgery,” Sample said. “It is big league to offer this procedure here at Cookeville Regional. We use cardiac CT images to plan the procedure, and then we use X-ray technology to guide the procedure to place the valve.”
“We are proud to say that we are ahead of most hospitals our size in offering such specialized services.” – CRMC CEO Paul Korth
The procedure has only been available since 2012 and is becoming an option for more and more patients, offering many benefits over open-heart surgery.
“With this procedure, patients can expect to be in the hospital for one to two days compared to five to seven with traditional surgery,” Wilson added. “It’s amazing. The recovery time is much quicker and less painful. The procedure itself is also much shorter. We expect more and more patients to qualify for this alternative in the future, not just the sicker patients.”
TAVR is only one of several procedures being offered at CRMC as part of the newly developed structural heart program. Led by Sample, who joined the medical staff last year, the structural heart program is fully equipped and staffed to treat the more advanced conditions affecting the valves and other vital structures of the heart. Structural heart problems are quite common. Some conditions are mild and only need follow-up care. Others, however, are advanced and require cardiac testing and treatment.
“The expansion of our heart program to include this program is a win for our region,” CRMC CEO Paul Korth said. “It is the only structural heart program in the Upper Cumberland, and we are proud to say that we are ahead of most hospitals our size in offering such specialized services. It is just one more way that our residents are able to stay closer to home for specialized care.”
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The structural heart team consists of interventional cardiologists, cardiothoracic surgeons and dedicated clinical support staff specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of conditions affecting the valves and other vital structures of the heart. In addition to Drs. Sample, Wilson, Brewington and Powell, other physicians involved in the program are interventional cardiologist Tom Little, MD, and electrophysiologist Mark Wathen, MD.
Available treatments and procedures include transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), patent foramen ovale repair, balloon aortic valvuloplasty (BAV), traditional valve surgery, percutaneous perivalvular leak closure and atrial septal defect (ASD) closure.