Opinion

Cutting-edge procedure at Mon General saving lives

An editorial from the  Times West Virginian

FAIRMONT, W.Va. — “I used to think I wouldn’t live to be 50. Well, I made it to 50 and then some,” Pearl Walls said.

Walls is likely alive today and able to tell her story to the Times West Virginian because of a cutting-edge procedure performed at Monongalia General Hospital — a Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR), which was only approved for use by the FDA in 2011.

Walls is one of three patients who has benefitted from the technology that is only provided by Mon General in North Central West Virginia.

While traditionally open-heart surgery was the only option, TAVR allows doctors to go in and replace the aortic valve without opening the chest or stopping the heart.

Instead, a team of 20 specialized health professionals go in using a tiny device that is inserted through a groin vessel or a small two-inch incision. The new artificial valve is then inserted within the diseased valve.

The procedure gives patients who have been diagnosed with severe symptomatic aortic valve disease, but aren’t well enough for traditional open heart surgery, the option of surgery to replace their aortic valve.

This was never an option before TAVR.

Dr. Alexander Nagy, who serves as medical director of cardiothoracic surgery at Mon General, says that by the time patients actually develop symptoms of aortic stenosis after several years, it may be too late…

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