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Mercyhealth Successfully Performs its First TAVR Procedure

JANESVILLE, Wisconsin—Mercyhealth Hospital and Trauma Center–Janesville has successfully performed its first transcatheter aortic valve replacement procedure (TAVR). TAVR is a way to replace a diseased heart valve without having a patient undergo major open-heart surgery.

During TAVR, a cardiologist and cardiovascular surgeon insert a replacement valve into a catheter and guides it through an artery to the patient’s heart, where a balloon is expanded to press the valve into place.

“Our community deserves to receive ‘big city’ care, close to home,” said Dr. John Snider. “It has been a massive institutional effort here at Mercyhealth to renovate our surgical suites and introduce a hybrid operating suite to allow us to do this level of procedures. Our team is excited to continue to provide high quality, evidence-based approaches that help patients live more enjoyable lives.”

Aortic stenosis affects more than 2.5 million Americans over the age of 75 annually. Valve replacement can be required if diet and lack of exercise cause heart valves to atrophy or harden. The loss of valve flexibility may cause chest pain, rapid heart rhythms or skips, shortness of breath, fatigue, weakness, and other symptoms.

Compared with open-heart surgery, patients who undergo TAVR spend less time in the hospital and are able to recover more quickly and get back to their everyday activities. All three of Mercyhealth’s first patients were discharged after one to three days.

“We are excited to bring this important procedure to our region,” said Dr. Gene Gulliver. “TAVR combines aspects of both cardiology and cardiac surgery and the close collaboration allows for excellent outcomes.”

Mercyhealth’s team of interventional and general cardiologists in Janesville offer the latest technology, such as the WATCHMAN procedure for stroke risk reduction in patients with atrial fibrillation. In addition, cardiothoracic surgeons offer minimally invasive options, such as a comprehensive mitral valve program; minimally invasive aortic valve replacement; a variety of treatments for atrial fibrillation, including surgical ablations; and the area’s only valve sparing aortic root replacement to treat aneurysms.

In January, Mercyhealth unveiled its $15.3 million project including renovations and equipment/technology upgrades at Mercyhealth Hospital and Trauma Center-Janesville’s operating room and radiology department. Renovations include the addition of a hybrid operating suite, two additional ophthalmology procedure rooms, radiology department upgrades and the complete 3D ultrasound, echocardiography and stress lab areas.

Photo caption: Katie Harrington (standing second to left), one of Mercyhealth’s first TAVR patients, stands with her heart team on July 1, 2020. Pictured left to right is Dr. Gene Gulliver, Katie H., Dr. John Snider and Nichelle Jensen, nurse practitioner. 

For more information about Mercyhealth, call (608) 756-6868 or visit mercyhealthsystem.org.

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