December 17, 2019

Kingwood, TX — The three scariest words to a cardiac patient are “open-heart surgery.” Surgery is frightening enough, but the thought of having your chest opened can be terrifying. Besides the invasiveness of the surgery, the difficult recovery makes the process challenging for anyone – and nearly impossible for elderly, frail patients. Thankfully, HCA Houston Healthcare Kingwood has become the first northeast Houston hospital to successfully complete several transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) procedures as a minimally invasive alternative to open-heart surgery.

TAVR replaces the aortic valve through a catheter via groin access in contrast to open-heart surgery in which the chest is opened to expose the heart. Typically, candidates for TAVR suffer from aortic stenosis, a common but serious problem in which the aortic valve opening narrows, dangerously restricting blood flow to the body and causing pressure to build up in the lungs.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved TAVR in 2012 for patients considered at high risk for open-heart surgery. In 2016, the FDA approved the procedure for patients at intermediate risk, and it has recently been approved for low-risk patients, which will dramatically increase the number of patients who qualify for TAVR.

Dr. Khaled Imad Khalaf, Chief Elect of Cardiology and structural cardiologist, alongside cardiovascular surgeon Dr. John Davis, III successfully performed the first two TAVR procedures in November at HCA Houston Healthcare Kingwood.

“It was a tremendous success and both patients were discharged the following day,” announced Dr. Davis.

“The concept of having a heart valve replaced in the morning without general anesthesia or intubation and being able to walk around and have dinner that same evening, with our standard protocol next-day discharge, makes this procedure a phenomenal breakthrough in technology. Having trained at a high-performing TAVR center, and continuing to perform TAVR there for years after training; I am very pleased and excited to offer this procedure at HCA Houston Healthcare Kingwood to serve our patients of northeast Houston closer to home,” explained Dr. Khalaf.

The FDA imposes strict requirements for hospitals wishing to practice TAVR, including successfully completing a certain number of open heart, surgical aortic valve, catheter, and percutaneous coronary interventions per year. HCA Houston Healthcare Kingwood performs thousands of heart procedures annually.

HCA Houston Healthcare Kingwood’s Cardiac Cath Lab Medical Director Dr. Rick Ganim said, “TAVR is a team effort. It’s an amazing technology and a huge win for patient care,” summarizing HCA Houston Healthcare Kingwood’s innovative new offering. “Historically, this procedure has been offered only in the Texas Medical Center– to be the first facility to bring it to northeast Houston is very significant.”

“The breakthrough has been the team approach to the care of the patients,” adds Robert Salazar, MD, structural cardiologist on staff at HCA Houston Healthcare Kingwood. “The TAVR technology demands close collaboration between cardiologists and surgeons, since it combines aspects of both cardiology and surgery. This close association has allowed for skilled decision-making, excellent outcomes and for expansion of the technology.”

“The first procedures went very well,” said John Corbeil, CEO of HCA Houston Healthcare Kingwood. “We look forward to continuing to grow this service, and are proud of this milestone in offering increasingly complex care to northeast Houston.”