Intermountain Healthcare cuts ribbon on new Utah Valley Hospital patient tower 05

The Pedersen Patient Tower at the Utah Valley Hospital is pictured on Friday, Jan. 11, 2019, in Provo.

A procedure now available at Utah Valley Hospital in Provo is expected to shorten recovery times for an aortic valve replacement and avoid the need for open heart surgery.

“This is a tremendous advancement in technology for people with aortic valve disease,” said John Mitchell, the director of cardiovascular surgical services at Utah Valley Hospital.

A transcatheter aortic valve replacement, or TAVR procedure, includes inserting a replacement valve through a cut in the upper thigh or shoulder. The valve is then navigated through the body to the heart, where the valve is expanded into place.

Valve replacements at the hospital were previously done through open heart surgery. Patients were previously in the hospital for three to five days and would face a six-week recovery before being able to return to their normal activities. With the TAVR procedure, patients are in the hospital for two days and can resume normal activities in 10 days.

“What used to be a last-ditch effort has now turned into a truly life-prolonging procedure with very little impact and good and excellent quality of life,” Mitchell said.

The TAVR procedure is performed on patients with aortic stenosis, which affects about 6.8 million people in the nation. It is the most common in people over the age of 65.

Five TAVR procedures have been performed at the hospital this month. Mitchell anticipated they’ll perform 80 to 100 TAVR procedures a year, doubling the number of aortic valve replacements that were done under open heart surgery.

Mitchell said the one hour, 10 minute procedure came to the hospital with a collaboration with Daniel Bennett, an interventional cardiologist with Revere Health.

The technology has been around for about five years, but was not implemented until Utah Valley Hospital’s hospital replacement project finished constructing its major facilities.

“Initially five years ago, we did not have an adequate facility in Utah County at Utah Valley Hospital to do this procedure,” Mitchell said. “We designed this into the new hospital, which has been open for a year.”

Braley Dodson covers health and education for the Daily Herald.

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