Advanced Treatments and Services

The specialists at Emory Healthcare Structural Heart and Valve Center have more than two decades of experience performing minimally invasive procedures on the heart and heart valves. As a nationally recognized academic medical center, Emory has access to FDA approved transcatheter valve replacement as well as up and coming clinical trial treatments when applicable.

Emory is also known for our innovative catheter-based techniques for replacing previously placed surgical valves that are now malfunctioning, as well as our state-of-the-art techniques for addressing congenital (present at birth) heart defects.

Learn more about the treatments we offer below.

Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR)

Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) is a minimally invasive treatment option for patients with severe aortic stenosis (narrowing of the aortic valve). Emory experts have been offering TAVR since 2007, and have performed this treatment successfully on over 2,500 patients, more than any other provider in the Southeast.

During TAVR, Interventional Cardiologists and Cardiothoracic Surgeons work together to replace the aortic valve with catheters through small incisions most frequently in the groin. This technique is performed without opening the chest as in traditional open heart surgery. This minimally invasive approach allows patients to recover more quickly than open chest procedures, reduces the risk of surgical complications, allows patients to go home sooner than the traditional surgery, and allows the patient to return to baseline more rapidly.

Initially used to treat patients deemed too high-risk for open-heart surgery, TAVR has recently been shown to be highly effective in treating medium-risk patients. Emory is a nationally recognized academic center of excellence and offers a vast array of novel technologies and treatment options through FDA approved transcatheter therapies as well as clinical trials. Emory is now offering TAVR to patients of low surgical risk within the PARTNER III clinical trial.

Advanced Congenital Cardiac Interventions 

In partnership with the Emory Adult Congenital Heart (EACH) Center, Emory Structural Heart and Valve Team, as well as Children's Healthcare of Atlanta physicians, Emory has the ability to treat a number of congenital heart conditions percutaneously.  Our team reviews all cases and works with other specialties to determine the best course of action to treat complex congenital heart conditions.

Balloon Valvuloplasty

Balloon valvuloplasty is a minimally invasive treatment option for patients with degenerative valve disease (deterioration of the heart valves).

During balloon valvuloplasty, the physician will make a small puncture and insert a catheter (thin, flexible tube) with a small, deflated balloon attached to the tip and thread it through a blood vessel. Once the catheter reaches the damaged valve, the balloon is inflated to stretch the valve opening and allow more blood to flow. The balloon is then deflated and guided back out through the vessel and removed. The small puncture is sealed.

The patient is generally awake during this procedure, and recovery time is considerably shorter than traditional surgery. However, balloon valvuloplasty is not a permanent solution and often has to be repeated at a later date.

Catheter Electrosurgery

Utilizing our partnership with the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Emory has been a world leader in the development of Catheter Electrosurgery.  We have been able to provide transcatheter options for treatment for the otherwise "No Option" patient.  We have been able to use this method for aortic and mitral leaflet modification as well as percutaneous access solutions.

Left Atrial Appendage (LAA) Closure

The left atrial appendage (LAA) is a small pouch on the left side of the heart. Patients with atrial fibrillation (abnormal heart rhythm) have a high risk of blood clots forming in the LAA. These clots can dislodge from the LAA and block blood flow to crucial parts of the body, including the brain (stroke). Oral anticoagulation medications may be used to reduce the risk of clots, but these medications are not safe or appropriate in some patients. In such cases, LAA closure is a viable minimally invasive treatment option.

During LAA closure, a small incision is made, and a catheter (thin, flexible tube) is inserted and used to deliver a closure device to the left side of the heart. There, the device is inserted into the LAA and expanded like an umbrella to seal off the entrance to the pouch. The catheter is then removed and the incision is stitched up.

Percutaneous Mitral Valve Replacement or Repair

In patients with severe leaking or narrow mitral valves, Emory has the ability to replace the mitral valve utilizing a percutaneous approach.  The procedure can be utilized in patients who have previously had mitral valve surgery or in patients who have mitral regurgitation or stenosis of their native valve.  The procedure can be performed through a small incision in the femoral vein or in some cases through a small incision in the left side of the chest.  These procedures are available both through clinical trials or approved devices.

Percutaneous Mitral Valve Clip Placement

Percutaneous mitral valve clip placement is a minimally invasive treatment option for patients with severe leak of the mitral valve. During this procedure, the physician makes a small puncture through which a catheter (thin, flexible tube) is inserted to deliver a small clip into the heart via the femoral vein (located in the upper thigh). Once in place, the clip is attached to the leaflets ("swinging doors") of the mitral valve to improve their function, and the catheter is removed. Because the procedure is minimally invasive, the recovery time is substantially shorter than with traditional open heart surgery.

At the Emory Structural Heart and Valve Center, our experts have successfully implanted more than 200 FDA-approved MitraClips to patients with mitral valve regurgitation.

Percutaneous Pulmonary Valve Replacement

At Emory, pulmonary valve replacement can be performed without needing open-heart surgery.  A thin catheter (thin, plastic tube) is inserted through the vein in the groin up to the heart, through which the valve is inserted.  X-ray is used to visualize the valve for placement.  This procedure can be used to insert a new pulmonary valve within an existing bioprosthetic valve, or in some cases, a native valve.  Recovery time is shorter and with less pain than open heart surgery.

Percutaneous Tricuspid Repair and Replacement

At Emory, we have the ability to either repair or replace damaged tricuspid valves.  This can be done by utilizing either percutaneous clip, transcatheter valve, or other percutaneous therapies.

Pulmonary Vein and Artery Stenting

This minimally invasive procedure is used to open up a pulmonary blood vessel (carries blood to and from the lungs) that may have narrowed for a variety of reasons. During the procedure, a small incision is made and a stent (small mesh tube) is placed over a tiny deflated balloon and delivered to the narrowed portion of the vessel using a catheter (thin, flexible tube) fed through a vein. Once in place, the balloon is inflated, thereby expanding the stent and anchoring it in place. The balloon and catheter are then removed and the incision is stitched up.

Robotic Mitral Valve Repair

Robotic mitral valve surgery was pioneered at Emory Structural Heart and Valve Center. We have performed more than 2,000 robotic mitral valve surgeries at Emory over the past 15 years, more than anywhere else in the world.

Septal Defect and Patent Foramen Ovale Closure

People born with small holes in their heart have either a septal defect or patent foramen ovale (PFO). Traditionally, these patients may have faced a lifetime of anticoagulant therapy or open heart surgery in order to repair the hole and reduce the high risk of stroke. Emory offers a minimally invasive option for these patients.

During the procedure, the physician makes a small puncture and inserts a hollow catheter (thin, flexible tube) to be threaded through a blood vessel and guided to the site of the defect. Once in place, it is used to deliver a collapsed mesh closure device to be placed inside the defect. The device is then delivered, expanding to block the hole and hold the device in place. The catheter is then removed and the puncture closed. Recovery time following this procedure is considerably shorter compared to traditional surgery.

Transcatheter Paravalvular Leak Closure

Repeating surgery to repair a leaking prosthetic (replacement) heart valve is a very risky procedure for some patients. Emory offers a minimally invasive technique for patients who need to repair a previously replaced heart valve. During the procedure, a small incision is made and a catheter (thin, flexible tube) is inserted to deliver and deploy a closure device at the site of the leak. Once in place, the catheter is removed and the incision is stitched up.

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