Morton Plant Hospital performs first Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement in Tampa Bay

Less invasive heart procedure approved by FDA

CLEARWATER, Fla. - For Richard Meriweter, a retired doctor, doing simple chores took effort.  His doctors say that was due to aortic stenosis.

Dr. John Ofenloch, a cardiothoracic surgeon, explains what that it. "Aortic stenosis is a progressive disease that involves the aortic valve which essentially is the gatekeeper valve. When the blood leaves the heart it has to pass through the aortic valve to get to the rest of the body. As a process of aging, the aortic valve begins to deteriorate it doesn't move or open as well as it did."

Traditional surgery to fix it may require opening the chest to replace the valve. Meriweter was too high a risk. Ofenloch explains, "The factors that made him so include lung disease, age and often kidney disease is a factor as well."

A new procedure, being offered by the heart valve team at Morton Plant Hospital, provides a much less invasive alternative to patients who are deemed inoperable. Meriweter says, "They sort of told me I wouldn't be living very long if I didn't have it done."

Doctor Lang Lin is an interventional cardiologist at Morton Plant Hospital. "This procedure involves no open heart. What we do, most patients are familiar with the stent procedure.  We do a cut in the groin area and we have a large catheter inserted to deliver the device to the aortic valve."

Surgeon Joshua Rovin is a cardiothoracic surgeon involved in the team.

"Now were going to inflate the balloon that the stent is on - It's completely expanded now. When we let the balloon down, the leaflets that are attached to that stent structure start to function and it's a brand new valve."

What that means for patients like Meriweter is a brand new lease on life, according to Doctor Ofenloch. "After the transcatheter valve replacement, the patient should be able to perform normal activities with ease. They should be able to enjoy family activities like going out to dinner and get around the neighborhood without experiencing significant symptoms."

Although this procedure is less risky than open heart surgery for most, patients are still under general anesthesia and surgery risks include infection and stroke.

For more information on the Valve Clinic, visit or call 855-448-2583.

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