PHILADELPHIA — Penn Medicine physicians have completed their 1,000th transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) procedure, marking an important milestone in the health system’s treatment of aortic stenosis, a narrowing of the heart’s aortic valve. Penn Medicine physicians started performing the TAVR procedure in November 2007 at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and in November 2009 at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center. The 1,000th TAVR was completed during the week of February 2, 2015.
“This milestone reinforces our ongoing commitment to provide the most advanced treatment options to our patients,” said Joseph E. Bavaria, MD, vice chief of Cardiovascular Surgery and co-director of the Transcatheter Valve Program at Penn Medicine. “TAVR allows patients who aren’t candidates for traditional open-heart surgery to still benefit from valve replacement and the resulting improved quality of life.”
The TAVR procedure uses a catheter — inserted through a small incision in the groin or in the left side of the chest — to place a new aortic valve where the patient’s native valve was, pushing the faulty valve aside. Today, Penn Medicine performs three to four TAVR procedures each week, providing improved quality of life for patients suffering from severe aortic stenosis symptoms like chest pain, shortness of breath, fainting and fatigue. Without treatment, more than half of severe aortic stenosis patients die within two years.
Penn Medicine was the first health system in the region to offer TAVR. Researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania were among the leaders of early TAVR trials and remain on the cutting edge of TAVR technology, which allows a broader range of patients to undergo the procedure. TAVR was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in November 2011, following trials among patients who would not have been eligible for traditional open-heart surgery due to their age or other medical conditions.
“It’s a huge advantage to patients that Penn Medicine has been in on the ground floor of the TAVR research and has done so many of these procedures,” said Howard C. Herrmann, MD, director of Penn Medicine’s Interventional Cardiology Program and co-director of the Transcatheter Valve Program. “It’s also extremely rewarding as a physician to be able to help more of my patients, some with no other alternatives, live longer, better lives.”
“Before TAVR, patients who weren’t candidates for open-heart surgery would have to suffer from aortic stenosis symptoms with no hope of improvement,” said Wilson Y. Szeto, MD, associate chief of cardiovascular surgery at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center and surgical director of transcatheter cardio-aortic therapies. “But by giving these patients another option, they’re able to get back to their favorite activities, from playing with grandchildren to traveling the world.”
Penn Medicine is one of the world’s leading academic medical centers, dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care. Penn Medicine consists of the Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (founded in 1765 as the nation’s first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System, which together form a $4.3 billion enterprise.
The Perelman School of Medicine has been ranked among the top five medical schools in the United States for the past 17 years, according to U.S. News & World Report‘s survey of research-oriented medical schools. The School is consistently among the nation’s top recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health, with $392 million awarded in the 2013 fiscal year.
The University of Pennsylvania Health System’s patient care facilities include: The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania — recognized as one of the nation’s top “Honor Roll” hospitals by U.S. News & World Report; Penn Presbyterian Medical Center; Chester County Hospital; Penn Wissahickon Hospice; and Pennsylvania Hospital — the nation’s first hospital, founded in 1751. Additional affiliated inpatient care facilities and services throughout the Philadelphia region include Chestnut Hill Hospital and Good Shepherd Penn Partners, a partnership between Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network and Penn Medicine.
Penn Medicine is committed to improving lives and health through a variety of community-based programs and activities. In fiscal year 2013, Penn Medicine provided $814 million to benefit our community.