First TAVR procedure at the Wesley brings hope for high risk cardiac patients

02 November 2015
TAVR-web-thumb The first transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) has been performed at The Wesley Hospital, ushering in a new era in heart care for patients suffering from severe aortic stenosis in Queensland.

In the extremely delicate operation, the state-of-the-art device was successfully implanted inside the patients' damaged heart valves by a team of cardiac experts from HeartCare Partners and the Wesley on October 23.

 TAVR is a minimally invasive procedure that can greatly improve the quality of life for people with severe aortic stenosis, an often debilitating condition due to narrowing of the heart's aortic valve opening which prevents normal blood flow resulting in shortness of breath and reduced mobility.

 For patients diagnosed with this heart problem, who are elderly or or too frail for cardiac surgical aortic valve replacement, TAVR can provide an alternative option to  open heart surgery.

The first ground breaking surgeries were conducted by a team comprising cardiologists Dr Anthony Camuglia, Dr Tony Rafter and Dr Stephen Cox with the assistance of Dr Steve Worthley from The Royal Adelaide Hospital and The University of Adelaide, as part of the Wesley's Structural Heart Program.

 Additional support was provided by cardiothoracic surgeon Dr Bruce Garlick, anaesthetist Dr John Keys and vascular surgeon Dr Nick Boyne with pivotal radiology expertise provided by Katherine Newbigin.

 TAVR-docs--350-webCardiologist Dr Stephen Cox said both patients were recovering well and could now look forward to a better quality of life. 

 “Both cases were complicated  - elderly women with severe aortic stenosis whose estimated surgical mortality and morbidity would have prohibited usual methods, “ he said. “Thanks to the TAVR program, we were able to offer them a life improving and probably life-saving care option”.

 “I’m excited and humbled to have been a part of this. The sleepless nights have been worth it. Our unswerving commitment to build a team of professionals that would allow us to deliver exceptional care has proven to be the linchpin of success.”

 Dr Cox said the effort put in by Dr Camuglia and Dr Rafter to get the program off the ground and the great support from cardiac experts and doctors, especially the imaging group, was greatly appreciated.

 “This endeavour took hundreds of hours of time and many late nights and weekends to bring together," he said.  “Katrina Newbigin's radiology expertise has been pivotal. Our Wesley Cardiac Catheter Lab staff were remarkable and supportive and provided first-class assistance, as did the hybrid theatre and theatre staff.

 “Both cases were conducted in the most professional and calm environment with truly great teamwork displayed to perform a complex procedure in a new environment. The sense of commitment and care in that room  was something to behold and be very proud of.

 “A very special thanks to Prof Steve Worthley for inviting us to Adelaide to commence our training and for being here for the first TAVR cases . His proctoring skill is unmatched in my experience. His expertise and calming influence undoubtedly allowed us to achieve the results we did. We are so lucky to have extraordinary talent like his in the GenesisCare network.”

 The Wesley Hospital’s Director of Medical Services Dr Luis Prado said the launch of the TAVR program was a significant milestone for the hospital and for delivery of cardiac services in the private hospital system.

 “Congratulations to the Wesley team on this significant milestone on the delivery of quality heart care at our hospital and in Queensland, " he said. "TAVR is an exciting addition to the Wesley's Structural Heart Program that will bring a better quality of life to patients suffering from severe aortic stenois.

 "Along with our sister UnitingCare Health hospital St Andrew’s War Memorial Hospital, we will continue to build on our success. We now look forward to working with HealthCare Partners to offer more TAVR procedures to our patients in the near future.”

 For more information on the Wesley TAVR program, contact HeartCare Partners on (07) 3858 8600.

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