Unmatched expertise in minimally invasive heart valve replacement
With decades of experience, our heart specialists are internationally known experts in treating complex heart valve disease. We use cardiac catheterization (minimally invasive procedures using a thin, flexible tube inserted through a blood vessel) to treat structural heart conditions and avoid the need for open heart surgery.
At the Center for Structural Heart Disease, you can expect the highest quality care for heart valve disease. We offer:
- World-class expertise: Our medical director, William W. O’Neill, is one of the world’s most experienced interventional cardiologists (experts in catheter-based minimally invasive treatment). He leads a team of highly skilled physicians who are breaking new ground developing the latest transcatheter procedures for structural heart conditions. Your care is in the best hands possible with our heart valve physicians.
- Latest, most advanced treatments: We are true innovators in heart valve replacement. We pioneered transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) and created the transcaval approach for the procedure. We are one of a few programs in Michigan to offer TAVR, which helps high-risk patients who have no other treatment options.
- Exclusive access to clinical trials: The structural heart team is among a select group of programs participating in advanced research and clinical trials. Our participation enables us to bring our patients the best treatment options available today. As our patient, you have access to research studies—unavailable at most other hospitals—that evaluate the next generation of minimally invasive treatments.
Conditions we treat with minimally invasive valve replacement
The heart experts at Henry Ford are always researching new ways to replace heart valves to treat people who may not be candidates for valve repair or open heart surgery. We can help even if your natural valve was damaged by illness or you have a previously implanted surgical valve that has failed.
The conditions we treat with transcatheter valve replacement include:
- Valve stenosis: The flaps of a heart valve may stiffen or fuse together so that they no longer fully open. These changes narrow the opening where blood flows through the heart.
- Valve regurgitation: The valve’s flaps may not completely close like they should. This causes blood to leak backward into the chambers of the heart instead of forward through the heart and into the body.
Both valve stenosis and regurgitation cause the heart to work harder to pump blood to the body. As a result, people with these conditions often feel tired and short of breath.
The valves that most commonly need replacement are the aortic and mitral valves. Read more about conditions that affect the four heart valves:
Approaches for heart valve replacement
At Henry Ford, our structural heart program is one of a few in the country offering multiple minimally invasive approaches to access your heart. That means that we can find a way to treat you no matter what your heart valve condition is, or whether you have small or damaged arteries or other conditions that rule out conventional treatment.
Our skilled interventional cardiologists work to find the best solution for you and your unique condition. We have years of experience using these catheter-based approaches for heart valve replacement:
- Femoral: This is a standard approach in which we access an artery in your thigh (groin) to perform the catheterization.
- Transcaval: Our team created the transcaval approach by temporarily connecting major blood vessels, a vein and an artery, which do not normally come together. In fact, we performed the world’s first transcaval procedure at Henry Ford in 2013. Using this new approach, we can treat people who have been turned away from other centers because they are high-risk candidates for surgery.
- Transaortic: With this approach, our cardiologists insert a catheter directly into the aorta, the main artery leading to your heart. We access your aorta through a small incision in your breastbone. We use the transaortic approach for people who cannot have femoral or radial access because of artery problems caused by other health conditions.
- Transapical: Using this approach, we make a small incision in your chest wall, between your ribs on the left side. We insert a catheter through this opening to directly access your heart to replace a valve.
- Transcarotid: An incision of approximately one inch is made just above the clavicle through which the carotid artery is located and accessed. From this point TAVR valve delivery is the same as it would be for a transfemoral approach.
Advanced heart valve replacement procedures at Henry Ford
Through our participation in research and clinical trials, we can offer our patients access to the best available valve replacement procedures and devices—sometimes even before they are available at other hospitals.
Our valve specialists develop personalized treatment plans for each patient’s specific needs, offering hope for people who are too sick for traditional surgery. The lifesaving valve replacement procedures that we perform include: