New Procedure at Miami Cardiac & Vascular Institute Prevents Coronary Obstruction When Replacing Heart Valve

Obstruction of the coronaryartery, which supplies oxygen-rich blood to the entire heart muscle, is a rarebut potentially deadly complication of a minimally invasive procedure toreplace the aortic valve, one of four valves that regulate blood flow throughthe heart.

MiamiCardiac & Vascular Institutehas performed a new technique on a 65-year-old heart patient to preventcoronary artery obstruction during her “transcatheter aortic valvereplacement” (TAVR). The pre-TAVR procedure, which goes by the acronym,BASILICA, has been performed only about 200 times in the world, and fewer thana dozen have been done in South Florida.

“We are a collaborativeorganization that is able to do innovative procedures for our patients and getthem out of the hospital quickly so they can go back to their lives,” saidPhillip Erwin, M.D., Ph.D., interventionalcardiologist with the Miami Cardiac & Vascular Institute.

Dr. Erwin performed the firstBASILICA procedure at the Institute this month with interventional cardiologist Bernardo Lopez-Sanabria, M.D., and Elliott Elias, M.D., a cardiologist with a focus on interventional echocardiography. 

More Options for High-Risk Patients
BASILICA is performed immediately before TAVR to prevent obstruction of the coronary artery. It increases treatment options for high-risk patients who need heart valve procedures. (The BASILICA acronym refers to: Bioprosthetic Aortic Scallop Intentional Laceration to prevent Iatrogenic Coronary Artery obstruction.)

For elderly or frail patients,TAVR offers a less invasive alternative to open heart surgery. However, a smallsubset of these TAVR candidates may develop coronary artery obstruction duringthe TAVR procedure. For more than half of these patients, this complication hasbeen fatal.

Many TAVR candidates need to havetheir aortic valves replaced a second time, after initially having gone throughriskier open-heart surgery.

“Based on the CT scans beforethe procedure, we can predict that obstruction will happen in a subset thatqualify for TAVR,” said Dr. Erwin. “And potential cases of coronaryartery obstruction will be increasing because the lifespan of a surgicalprosthesis (aortic valve replacement, or AVR) is about 10 years. And patientswith surgical AVRs are living longer.”

To prevent coronary arteryobstruction, the interventional cardiologist performing the BASILICA techniqueweaves an electrified wire the size of a sewing thread through a catheter anduses it to split the original leaflet in two. This prevents the blocking of thecoronary artery once it has been pushed aside by the new transcatheter heartvalve during TAVR.

Some patients who benefit fromBASILICA have uncommon structures in the heart, such as unusually large aorticvalve leaflets, or thin flaps of tissue. The large leaflets block the flow ofblood to the coronary arteries as the new valve’s scaffolding opens.

‘A Chance to Live a Full Life’
The 65 year-old woman who successfully underwent the BASILICA procedure, followed by TAVR, had surgical aortic valve replacement about 10 years ago. She is a grandmother and leads and an active life, but she was having difficulty completing her daily activities because of shortness of breath.

“The problem was that herprosthetic valve (surgically implanted 10 years ago) was very close to theopenings of her coronary arteries,” explains Dr. Erwin.

There was another unique issue.The patient’s religious belief did not allow for the acceptance of bloodproducts, says Dr. Erwin. Her initial open-heart surgery a decade earlier didnot require blood infusions, he added.

The BASILICA procedure and theTAVR performed on the patient were successful and she went home the next day.She was even walking around a couple of hours after procedures, he said.

“You could say that her aorticvalve ran out of its warranty, and then we also had to fix the issue that hervalve was already too small,” says Dr. Erwin. “This gives a vibrantyoung woman in her sixties a chance to live a full life and be active with hergrandchildren.”

Healthcare that Cares

With internationally renowned centers of excellence, 12 hospitals, more than 27,000 employees, 4,000 physicians and 200 outpatient centers, urgent care facilities and physician practices spanning across Miami-Dade, Monroe, Broward and Palm Beach counties, Baptist Health is an anchor institution of the South Florida communities we serve.

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