Patients in need of heart valve replacement have a new option for care in the Paducah region. Mercy Health — Lourdes Hospital now offers transcatheter aortic valve replacement, or TAVR.

Interventional cardiologist Abdelkader Almanfi, MD, and cardiac thoracic surgeon James O’Rourke, MD, performed the first TAVR procedure at Lourdes Sept. 16. Raymond Gee of Benton was Mercy Health — Lourdes Hospital’s first TAVR patient.

“Our TAVR program is the result of much planning and hard work to offer our patients the most advanced treatment option for valve replacement,” said Michael Yungmann, President, Mercy — Lourdes Hospital. “I congratulate Dr. Almanfi, Dr. O’Rourke and the entire heart care team on this achievement. This success is a testament to the talents of all involved and further establishes that our structural heart program is second to none.” 

TAVR is a minimally invasive method of treating valve disease without open heart surgery. Instead of making a large incision in the chest, the medical team inserts a catheter into one of the leg arteries, which serves as a conduit to deliver the new valve. The new valve is advanced through the catheter to the diseased valve and put in place and slowly expanded inside the old valve, the new valve is immediately functional and most patients experience instant clinical benefit.

Dr. Almanfi recently joined Mercy Health — Heart and Vascular Institute, Cardiology (1532 Lone Oak Rd, Suite 415 Paducah) and additionally became the medical director for Lourdes’ structural heart program. Dr. Almanfi is an interventional cardiologist, endovascular and structuralist who brought to Mercy Health his experience with hundreds of TAVR cases, among other structural heart procedures including mitral valve repair, replacement and WATCHMAN procedures. Prior to joining Mercy Health, Dr. Almanfi served as the medical director of ThedaCare Regional Medical Center’s (Appleton, Wisconsin) structural heart program. Dr. Almanfi specializes in minimally-invasive and non-surgical approaches to structural heart problems.

“Our first TAVR is the result of coordinated teamwork from a fully-dedicated group who share my goals for the future of our structural heart program,” Dr. Almanfi said. “I can’t tell you how excited our patients are when they learn about their access to such advanced cardiovascular care close to home.”

Dr. O’Rourke is a board certified cardiac and thoracic surgeon in practice at Mercy Health – Heart and Vascular Institute, Cardiothoracic Surgery (1532 Lone Oak Road, Suite 445, Paducah). Dr. O’Rourke specialize in heart valve replacement and repair and performs minimal access chest and lung surgeries which result in quicker recoveries.

“Patients suffering from any aortic valvular disease may be potential candidates for this approach,” Dr. O’Rourke said. “We perform the procedure, which takes less than 60 minutes, in the cardiac hybrid operating room. It carries a very low risk of complications. Patients are generally ready for discharge within 48 hours and can expect a complete recovery within several days.”

“Thanks to our team, patients now have a great option compared to traditional valve replacement,” said Ashley Britton, Lourdes’ director of cardiovascular services. “Previously, patients would have had their sternums opened but thanks to this minimally-invasive approach they will be back in their homes, resuming their lives in just a matter of days.”

Kaylee Spicer, RN, is Mercy Health — Lourdes Hospital’s structural/valve program coordinator. For more information concerning TAVR, contact Mercy Health — Heart and Vascular Institute, Cardiology at 270-442-0103.