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Cardio-Surgical Team at UK Healthcare’s Gill Heart Institute Embraces TAVR

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Interventional cardiologists at UK HealthCare’s Gill Heart Institute are now performing multiple successful Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement procedures.

The procedure, also known as TAVR, is used for patients with severe, symptomatic aortic stenosis who are not candidates for traditional open-heart surgery.

The transcatheter value team is led by Dr. John Gurley and coordinated by Vicki Turner. The multidisciplinary team includes surgeons Dr. Chand Ramaiah and Dr. Hassan Reda; interventional cardiologists Dr. Khaled Ziada, Dr. Joseph Foley and Dr. Matthew Wiisanen; cardiac imaging specialists Dr. Steve Leung and Dr. Vince Sorrell; and anesthesiologist Dr. Johannes Steyn.

“We are excited to offer this option to patients with aortic valve disease,” says Gurley. “TAVR is the latest addition to UK’s comprehensive catheter-based structural heart program, which began offering balloon valvuloplasty in 1985.”

In a healthy heart, the aortic valve is able to open wide, allowing the heart to pump oxygenated blood to the body.

In an aortic stenosis, the valve is unable to open adequately, resulting in an obstruction of blood flow from the heart chamber into the aorta. When the blood flow is obstructed, less oxygen is able to flow through, and patients can suffer from shortness of breath, chest pains or fainting episodes.

During the minimally invasive TAVR procedure, a prosthetic valve is implanted within the diseased aortic valve using a catheter inserted through the groin area. Once in place, a balloon is inflated to open the valve. Almost immediately, the new valve starts working in place of the diseased valve, resulting in improved blood flow.

“Our valve team is the most experienced in the region,” says Dr. Susan Smyth, chief and medical director of the Gill Heart Institute. “Dr. Gurley is a national leader in catheter-based approaches to structural heart disease, with 25 years of experience and important pioneering work. Our surgeons have some of the lowest hospital mortality in the country and our valve coordinator has 20 years of experience managing patients before and after heart surgery.”

“The valve program typifies UK’s state-of-the art approach to cardiovascular care, combining new hybrid operating facilities, a major cardiovascular imaging center, and a multidisciplinary staff,” Smyth adds. “The goal is to provide the most appropriate care possible – tailored to our individual patients but based on the latest evidence and technology.”

The new valve, developed by Edwards Lifesciences, is known as the Edwards SAPIEN valve.



LEXINGTON A $5 million grant program, the Wallace H. Coulter Translational Partnership Award, which was awarded to University of Louisville, provides funding for an innovative partnership between UofL’s School of Engineering and the School of Medicine. Leaders of the programs are taking their message throughout the Commonwealth to meet with alumni and potential medical school students who are interested in engineering as well as careers in medicine.

“We want our alumni to know that we have not changed our core message,” said Toni Ganzel, MD, MBA, interim dean of the UofL School of Medicine. “We are committed to UofL being a metropolitan research facility that improves the health of our statewide population through education, research, clinical care and community engagement.”

Expected outcomes from the UofL Schools of Engineering and Medicine partnership include inventions, patents, improved diagnoses and treatment of disease, consumer products, licenses and start-up companies. “It is important that we serve our community and actively partner with them to combat the profound health disparities that exist in our state,” said Ganzel.

Mark Slaughter, MD, professor and chief, Division of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, Artificial Organs and Circulatory Devices, Cardiovascular Innovation Institute and surgeon, University of Louisville Physicians demonstrated some of the advancements in the miniaturization of MCS devices to promote myocardial recovery.

Also presenting were Robert kenton, PhD, chair, Department of Bioengineering and Steven koenig, PhD, professor and investigator. Both Kenton and Koenig are with the J.B. Speed School of Engineering, Artificial Organs and Circulatory Assist Devices, Cardiovascular Innovation Institute.

Mickey Ising, a second year medical student in the Uof L School of Medicine, who holds a MS in bioengineering spoke of his interest in pursuing a medical degree to complement his interest in engineering and design.

The partnership of UofL School of Medicine with Kentucky One Health facilitates these new initiatives said Ganzel. “It allows us to have a strong partner and immediate access to a statewide health care system and gives Kentucky One access and alignment with Uof L physicians at an academic flagship. As we expand our clinical trials and sites throughout the state for our physicians and medical students, we can increase the pipeline of healthcare professionals for decades to come,” said Ganzel.