Bassett Hospital now offers a less invasive alternative to open heart surgery for the replacement of aortic valves.

People might require aortic valve replacement because of aortic stenosis, which is a condition where the aortic valve narrows. It’s commonly seen in people beyond their 50s or 60s, said Dr. Dhananjai Menzies, director of interventional cardiology and the cardiac catheterization laboratory at Bassett. Some symptoms of aortic stenosis include shortness of breath, chest pain and feeling light headed, he said.

The less invasive method, called trans-catheter valve replacement, replaces the aortic valve by implanting a new valve through a catheter from the femoral artery in the groin, Menzies said.

“This has been a major advance and one of the most important advances in the interventional cardiology field, almost since the advent of stents as a whole,” Menzies said.

Stents are small tubes that support the wall of the artery to prevent it from re-narrowing after a procedure to unblock it, according to Mayo Clinic’s website.

More than two-thirds of patients who undergo trans-catheter valve replacement procedure typically only spend a night in the hospital and are sent home the next day, Menzies said.

Open heart surgery typically requires a hospital stay of five days and it would take more than a month before a patient could resume work, said Dr. John Kelley, chief of cardiac surgery at Bassett. With trans-catheter valve replacement, patient activity is only limited for about two weeks after the procedure, and resumption of normal activities is quicker, he said.

Menzies said the risk of dying from this procedure is just about 1%, as is the risk of stroke or heart attack. Not all patients needing valve replacement are candidates for trans-catheter valve replacement, Kelley said in a media release from Bassett Healthcare Network. People with complex coronary artery disease or multiple valve issues may still need to undergo traditional surgery, he said in the release.

The first trans-catheter valve replacement cases were done at Bassett at the end of July, Kelley said. Kelley and Menzies have performed the procedure on 13 patients at Bassett since then, Kelley said.

Kelley said he and Menzies trained at Albany Medical Center to bring the procedure to Bassett. In total, they have together performed trans-catheter valve replacement for nearly 200 patients, according to the release.

Bassett patients seeking trans-catheter valve replacement surgery previously had to travel to bigger cities such as New York City, Albany or Rochester to get it, Kelley said.

“In general, the patient population is grateful to get an advanced procedure closer to home,” Kelley said. “It really is quite an advantage for the families in the area.”

Shweta Karikehalli, staff writer, can be reached at skarikehalli@thedailystar.com or 607-441-7221. Follow her @DS_ShwetaK on Twitter.

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