Patients in need of a heart valve replacement procedure now have an alternative to open heart surgery.
Medical professionals at Memorial Hospital of Carbondale Tuesday unveiled a less invasive procedure called Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement, or TAVR.
Doctors performed the first TAVR in Carbondale in early January and have completed 26 so far. One of the first patients was 75-year-old Regina Einig of Makanda.
"They would come up my femoral artery from my groin, come up and literally push the new valve into the old one. I was just blown away. I couldn't believe they could that that easily."
Kristin Doster is executive vice president of Prairie Cardiovascular. She says aortic stenosis was under-treated before this process.
"There wasn't an alternative for patients who were considered higher risk or extraordinarily sick. TAVR has really created this opportunity and given hope to patients."
The TAVR core valve - made of memory metal that holds its shape with the help of animal tissue - can last 10 to 15 years.
TAVR allows interventional cardiologists with Prairie Cardiovascular to operate in tandem with SIH Medical Group cardiothoracic surgeons in the hospital's hybrid operating room. Surgeon John Watson says this unique collaboration works to create the best possible outcomes for patients.
"A surgeon is going to say, 'We do surgeries. We like to do surgeries. Surgery is the best.' The cardiologists say, 'Well, stents or something are the best.' But, now when you sit down, say, 'Maybe you're right, maybe that's the best."
Einig says the recovery went remarkably well.
"I had the surgery on a Thursday, went home on Saturday, went to church on Sunday and taught piano on Monday. That's what you call pretty good recovery time. I was really happy with that."
TAVR procedures are being schedule every week at Memorial Hospital of Carbondale.