Minimally Invasive Heart Valve Replacement
If you or a loved one has a defective heart valve, everyday activities can leave you feeling weak and tired. At the Center for Structural Heart Disease at Henry Ford Hospital, our expert physicians are pioneers in the latest minimally invasive procedures for heart valve replacement. With our expertise and skill, we help you regain your health so you can enjoy the best possible quality of life.
People come to us from all over the country because we can help patients with any kind of heart valve condition. We can even help those who have been told that they can’t be treated.
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:
Innovative 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:
- 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.
- Femoral: This is a standard approach in which we access an artery in your thigh (groin) to perform the catheterization.
- Radial: This approach uses an artery in your wrist to insert a catheter and access your heart. The radial approach can minimize your risk of bleeding and often allows for a faster recovery.
- 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.
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:
Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR)
Using this technique, we access your heart using catheters. We then position the replacement aortic valve.
What makes TAVR special at Henry Ford is our team’s expertise in selecting the best delivery method for each patient. These methods include the innovative transcaval approach that our team created.
If you need TAVR, we have expertise in using several valve replacement devices. We became skilled in the use of these devices during our participation in TAVR research and clinical trials.
Learn more about transcatheter aortic valve replacement and the devices we use.
Transcatheter mitral valve replacement (TMVR)
Similar to TAVR, this catheter-based procedure replaces the mitral valve in patients with severe regurgitation (leakage). Henry Ford is one of only 7 heart programs in the U.S. participating in the Tendyne trial, an advanced clinical trial for TMVR.
Because the structure of the mitral valve is more complex than that of the aortic valve, the procedure to replace the valve is more intricate. To ensure the best possible outcomes for our patients, we use 3D imaging and printing to precisely plan the procedure.
Our heart experts create a 3D model of the patient’s heart to help determine the best positioning for the replacement mitral valve. The 3D model allows the team to test valve placement ahead of time, ensuring the right fit and reducing your procedure time, recovery time and hospital stay.
Read more about our innovative 3D imaging and printing.
Pulmonic and tricuspid valve replacement
For people with disease in these valves, the most common treatment is medication or repair. We can perform minimally invasive, transcatheter procedures for replacement in the rare case that a patient needs more advanced treatment. Read about the procedures we perform for minimally invasive heart valve repair.
Depending on your specific case, open heart surgery may be the best option for you. During this procedure, our heart surgeons remove your diseased valve and implant a replacement valve using traditional surgical techniques.
If you need open heart surgery, our team of cardiac surgeons has years of experience, extensive training and expertise in open heart surgery to replace heart valves. Learn more about cardiology at Henry Ford.