Methodist Healthcare February 06, 2013

Methodist Hospital is the only private hospital in the area performing the new Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) Procedure. TAVR is giving patients with aortic stenosis, the narrowing of the aortic valve which obstructs the delivery of blood from the heart to the body, a new life-saving option.  TAVR is among the least invasive types of heart valve surgery because the heart valve is replaced without having to open the chest cavity.  It is a new option for older or non-operative patients who are not good candidates for open heart surgery, which has been the gold standard for treatment.   

This story is especially timely because the FDA recently approved a new approach to TAVR surgery.  During the new transapical approach, a small incision is made between the ribs on the left lower chest, and the replacement aortic valve is inserted directly into the heart.  This new approach allows for the shortest and most direct route to the diseased valve resulting in a shorter procedure (2 hours, instead of 4 to 5), and a shorter recovery time.  It also makes the procedure available to patients with smaller blood vessels.   Previously surgeons used a catheter-based delivery system inserted via the femoral artery in the thigh to replace the heart valve.

Jorge Alvarez, M.D., medical director at the South Texas Heart Valve Center, a department of Methodist Hospital and the first and only hospital-based program in South Texas dedicated to heart valve patients, and a patient who has benefited from the procedure, are available for interviews.  Animation of the TAVR procedure is available at  

If you are interested in any of these interviews, please phone Shirley Wills at 822-2378 or 365-4488(cell) or JoAnn King, 575-0171 or 325-3294 (cell).

For media assistance during the weekend, please phone Methodist Hospital, 575-4000, and ask for the public relations representative on call.