March 6, 2014 — At age 88, Lena M. Smith visited her doctor, Larry Hunt, M.D., at the University of Alabama at Birmingham to find out why her energy level had diminished.
Hunt, a primary care physician and assistant professor in the UAB School of Medicine, detected a heart murmur, and an echocardiogram confirmed aortic stenosis. Smith needed her aortic valve replaced. UAB Heart and Vascular Services cardiothoracic surgeon Spencer Melby, M.D., and interventional cardiologist Seun Alli, M.D., scheduled Smith for the minimally invasive Edwards Lifesciences Sapien transcatheter heart valve replacement system surgery. She became the 100th patient to undergo the procedure at UAB Hospital since the program began in August 2012.
“I feel great — amazing,” Smith said. “I’m a satisfied customer and ready to get moving again.”
UAB is home to Alabama’s largest and oldest heart valve disease treatment program and is one of just a few in the state trained to offer the Edwards Lifesciences TAVR — the only transcatheter aortic valve replacement therapy approved for commercial use in the United States. UAB performs more valve procedures annually than anyone in the state and has since the inception of its program.
UAB completed its 100th TAVR transplant in 18 months. Many programs around the country complete approximately 50 TAVR procedures in the same time period.
“We have had great success since we began doing the TAVR procedure, and a big reason for that is that we have a tremendous team in place,” Alli said. “In many cases, these are really sick people who don’t have a lot of other options. Open-heart surgeries just aren’t possible because of the age or other medical issues of the patient in most cases. But we’ve done 100 of these cases with minimum complications, and we’ve had very good outcomes. We’ve seen that when they come back to clinic for follow-up they are symptomatically better and have an improved quality of life.
The big advantage to the TAVR procedure is that surgeons can replace valves without open-heart surgery.
For more information: www.uab.edu