Mid-Michigan hospital performs new heart procedure - WNEM TV 5

Mid-Michigan hospital performs new heart procedure

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(Source: WNEM) (Source: WNEM)

A Mid-Michigan hospital is performing a new life-saving procedure for heart patients.

Doctors said it is much safer than you're standard open heart surgery and may have the best long term benefits.

"I think all in all, having open heart surgery is quite a strain on your body," said Ronald Leigeb, patient.

He has been beating the medical odds for years.

hen his doctors at MidMichigan Medical Center in Midland discovered his aortic valve was leaking, he didn't know what was going to happen. All he knew was traditional open heart surgery was too risky.

"When they found out that I had had radiation before on my chest and that there was issues with the rib cage, it was a long procedure. But finally they decided that my best course of action would be to have the TAVR done," Leigeb said.

TAVR stands for transcatheter aortic valve replacement.

"What we do is we navigate through with the catheter to find this valve that we deploy. And we push away the calcified aortic valves and the patients are left with this brand new valve," said Dr. Nestor Mercado, cardiologist.

He and Dr. Robert Jones said they have done just about 40 of these procedures - all with great success.

They also said the TAVR seems to actually have more benefits compared with the go-to method of open heart surgery.

"The latest studies actually show that the TAVR is more superior of the two," Jones said.

Only patients who are considered high risk can opt for the surgery.

"We're starting to see more and more patients coming to the clinic requesting this even though they don't qualify for it. The centers for Medicare and Medicaid really will not allow us to do anything, but a surgical approach in those with low risk," Jones said.

Leigeb said he has had both - the traditional open heart surgery as well as the TAVR - and he said he definitely prefers the less invasive one.

"I was in about two days in the hospital, but like I said earlier I was able to do pretty much anything I wanted to do after that within reason," Leigeb said.

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