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Santa Cruz, California – The cardiac team at Dominican Hospital is performing a ground-breaking valve replacement procedure never before available in Santa Cruz, California. Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) allows for valve replacement without opening a patient’s chest.

Dominican is one of the select providers in the nation, and the only hospital in the entire Monterey Bay area, performing this procedure. 

Compared to traditional open-heart surgery, TAVR is significantly less invasive, requiring only a small incision. The procedure is conducted in the hospital’s catheterization (cath) lab, and FDA approved for patients who are too frail or high-risk for traditional open-heart surgery.

“TAVR has been a game-changer for our patients who are too sick or too high risk for traditional surgical valve replacement,” said Neil Sawhney, MD, interventional cardiologist. “It has literally given them their lives back by taking a universally lethal condition with severe symptoms and, in the course of hours, restoring their quantity and more importantly quality of life.”

During TAVR, the surgeon attaches the replacement heart valve to a balloon and inserts the balloon into the body via catheter through the patient’s leg or chest while the patient is under general anesthesia. The new valve is positioned inside the faulty aortic valve and the balloon is inflated, precisely positioning the replacement valve. Typical recovery time is three to five days.

Lee Fitzgerald, of Capitola, California, underwent the TAVR procedure at Dominican Hospital in April. Now, he says, he feels “back to 100 percent, as far as my heart is concerned.”

Mr. Fitzgerald, 88, said the procedure was easier than he expected. “My recovery was pretty easy, relatively speaking,” he said. “When I first got into the hospital room [after the surgery] I felt the effect of it pretty quickly. There was no pain in my chest.” 

Excerpted from a recent issue of Dominican Hospital’s newsletter,
Focus on Health, Wellness, and Lifestyle

Feature photo: Members of the Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) team perform advanced and less-invasive surgery on a patient.


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