Mission performs revolutionary heart procedure

From the press release:

ASHEVILLE, N.C., (Feb. 16, 2012) – Mission Health, recently named one of the top 15 health systems in the U.S. by Thomson Reuters, continued its legacy of providing leading-edge heart care by performing the first transcatheter aortic valve replacement surgery (TAVR) in Western North Carolina. The life-changing procedure is a treatment for patients with severe aortic stenosis who were previously considered inoperable. A team of cardiac specialists performed the TAVR procedure at Mission Hospital earlier this month, and the patient’s recovery has been excellent.

Mission is one of only four hospitals in North Carolina, and the only hospital in Western North Carolina, among 42 hospitals nationwide selected to perform TAVR procedures on patients. Surgeons at Mission perform more than 400 valve procedures annually, ranking Mission in the top five percent nationally according to the Society of Thoracic Surgeons.

“Mission Health was selected as a provider for this advanced technology because of the expertise, experience and knowledge of our cardiac surgeons and interventionalists as well as the number of valve procedures we perform,” said Karen Lemieux, Vice President of Heart Services at Mission Health. “We have been working on implementing this program for more than a year, and the team of physicians received additional training at Columbia University Medical Center.”

TAVR involves placing a biological valve in a diseased aortic valve through a catheter, a method that eliminates the need for open-heart surgery, which may pose greater risks to certain patients. During the procedure, a valve with a balloon-expandable stent is reduced in size and placed on a delivery catheter. The catheter is then inserted in the thigh through a small incision at the top of the leg. Once the catheter has delivered the valve to the heart, the valve is positioned and implanted across the diseased aortic valve.

“This procedure is a huge advance in the field of medicine because it allows doctors to treat the aortic valve without opening the ribcage. This minimally invasive procedure reduces the risks for patients, particularly those that are frail,” said William Abernethy M.D., an interventional cardiologist at Mission Health who performed the procedure. “Mission’s administration and board have given significant support by ensuring that its cardiologists and cardiothoracic surgeons have the facilities and equipment needed to provide this type of innovative care to our patients across Western North Carolina.”

Mark Groh M.D., a cardiac surgeon at Asheville Heart and one of the physicians who performed the procedure, said, “The hybrid operating room on the Mission Campus, with its advanced imaging and procedural capabilities, enables a collaborative team approach for technologically advanced procedures like TAVR.”

Mission’s TAVR program has a designated Nurse Navigator who ensures TAVR patients and their families have a clear understanding of their disease process and treatment options. The Nurse Navigator works with the patient’s referring cardiologist throughout the process and maintains contact with the patient from the beginning to the end of treatment, guiding and answering questions along the way. The TAVR program is one of several treatments offered by Mission Heart Valve Clinic, which was developed to assess patients and offer collaborative consults from both an interventional cardiology and cardiothoracic surgery perspective.

Aortic stenosis affects nearly 150,000 Americans each year, and the TAVR procedure is expected to play a key role in extending and improving the lives of these people. A study published in 2010 in The New England Journal of Medicine reported there were 38 percent fewer deaths in the first year among patients who received the procedure compared with patients who received no treatment.

“Having this procedure available in Western North Carolina is a tremendous asset to our community,” said Ronald A. Paulus, MD- President and CEO of Mission Health. “We are fortunate to have outstanding physicians on staff and in our medical community who are able to provide this progressive procedure to our surrounding community.”

About Mission Health

Mission Health, based in Asheville, N.C., is the state’s sixth largest health system and the tertiary care regional referral center for Western North Carolina and the adjoining region. In 2012, Mission Health was named by Thomson Reuters as one of the top 15 health systems in the nation – the only health system in North Carolina to receive this recognition.

Founded in 1885, Mission Health is a not-for-profit, independent community hospital system that operates four hospitals, numerous outpatient and surgery centers, and the region’s only dedicated Level II trauma center. Its medical staff consists of more than 750 physicians, and is certified in more than 50 medical specialties and subspecialties. Centers of excellence include heart, stroke care, neurosciences and pediatrics. Mission Hospital, the system’s flagship hospital, is licensed for 730 beds and is the busiest surgical hospital in North Carolina. Other Mission hospitals include Blue Ridge Regional Hospital in Spruce Pine, McDowell Hospital in Marion, and Mission Children’s Hospital in Asheville.

With approximately 8,800 employees and 700 volunteers, Mission Health is dedicated to serving and improving the health and wellness of the people of Western North Carolina.


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