First transcaval valve replacement procedure completed in Europe

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A Henry Ford Hospital cardiologist helped perform the first successful transcaval valve replacement in Europe, sharing his expertise on a pioneering way to access the heart.

Henry Ford was the first hospital in the world to perform the unique procedure, which accesses the heart for valve replacement by temporarily connecting major blood vessels in the abdomen. Henry Ford cardiologist Adam Greenbaum, co-director of the Henry Ford Center for Structural Heart Disease, who also taught the technique to seven other centres in the USA, was asked to share the technique with Markus Kasel at the German Heart Centre Munich.

“We are pleased that the advanced cardiology procedures we perform at Henry Ford can help patients both here and around the world,” says Greenbaum. Henry Ford cardiologists estimate the procedure could help 25,000 to 50,000 patients in the USA annually, when scar tissue, small arteries or other medical issues prevent cardiologists from using traditional access to the heart. Now, the option will be available to patients in Europe too.

Henry Ford Hospital cardiologists performed the health system’s first transcaval procedure on in July 2013 in Detroit, USA. During transcaval valve replacement, a wire is guided into a leg and up through the femoral vein. Cardiologists then poke through the vein and a parallel artery in the abdomen. By gradual dilation, the openings are widened, and a catheter is placed as a bridge between the two. Doctors can then use a smaller catheter to move through the vein, across the bridge and up through the artery into the heart to implant a new artificial aortic heart valve. After the valve is placed, the catheter bridge is removed and a plug closes the holes in the artery and the vein so the two major blood vessels can function as normal.

The technique was perfected by Greenbaum, Henry Ford cardiologist William O’Neill and Robert Lederman, an interventional cardiologist at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, who developed the transcaval technique in a research setting. Greenbaum led the team who performed the first procedure at Henry Ford. He worked alongside O’Neill and Gaetano Paone, division head of cardiac surgery at Henry Ford Hospital.

Approximately 5 million people in the USA are diagnosed with heart valve disease annually. With an aging population that is often too frail for open-heart surgery, more than 20,000 Americans die of the disease each year, according to the American Heart Association.