Providence leads Oregon with Sapien valve

February 05, 2013

One year ago, on Feb. 1, 2012, Providence and a Vancouver man with a failing heart valve made history in Oregon.

On that day, years of hard work, international training and commitment to Providence's Mission to serve the poor and vulnerable all came together in a hybrid, digital surgical suite at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center – during a transcatheter aortic valve replacement procedure, also known as TAVR.

A year ago, on Feb. 1, 2012, this team of Providence employees helped implant the first Sapien valve in Oregon. The balloon-expandable valve can be implanted through a blood vessel, which greatly reduces patients' recovery time. Each procedure requires a team this size, including nurses, technicians, cardiologists and surgeons.

A team of more than a dozen cardiac specialists implanted the first Sapien valve in Oregon. The Food and Drug Administration had only approved the balloon-expandable valve for commercial use two months earlier, and Providence was selected as the first site in the state to use the device, due in part to the interdisciplinary Providence Valve Center that was in place to serve patients who would benefit from the new technology.

"Our team is superb," says Robert Hodson, M.D., interventional cardiologist and medical director of Providence Valve Center. "It requires a cohesive multidisciplinary team of technicians, nurses, cardiologists and surgeons working together to ensure the absolute best outcome for our patients. This is the model of the future for advanced patient care."

"This technology is revolutionizing care for patients with advanced heart disease," says Jeffrey Swanson, M.D., surgeon and medical director of cardiovascular surgery at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center. "The work we are doing at Providence will contribute to the body of knowledge that will advance the technology of valve therapy. We could not do this without our courageous patients; we are honored to care for them."

The catheter-placed Sapien heart valve expands to replace a patient's defective valve.

The Sapien valves are inserted in a minimally invasive procedure, greatly reducing recovery time. Valves are traditionally replaced or repaired during open-heart surgeries. Because the technology is still evolving, the FDA approved the first-generation valve for patients too frail or elderly to undergo open-heart surgery. Research is now underway on the second-generation Sapien XT valve. Providence was selected as a PARTNER II clinical trial site last year to evaluate the second generation valve in healthier patients.

Since Feb. 1 of last year, Providence Valve Center has treated 40 patients, ranging in age from 74 to 102, using transcatheter technology. Of those, 18 patients received the second-generation valve within the PARTNER II trial. Among the team's many firsts are the first transfermoral (through the leg) TAVR, first transapical (through the tip of the heart) TAVR and first transaortic (through the upper chest) TAVR. Providence is the largest volume Sapien valve program in Oregon.