Less Invasive Treatment Gets to the Heart of the Matter

UPMC. Stock photo of surgical team in theater

In-and-out, as Maryland hospital intros less-invasive aortic valve disease surgery 

Patients in western Maryland who have aortic valve disease now have a less-invasive treatment option available at UPMC Western Maryland. The facility in Cumberland, Md., performed its first transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) in March 2024.

TAVR is an alternative to open-heart surgery that improves the quality of life for patients with aortic stenosis, a narrowing of the heart’s aortic valve. Before TAVR’s development, the open-heart surgery required to treat this ailment was often deemed too risky for elderly patients – exactly the people who are most likely to suffer from the condition.

“We are excited to bring this minimally invasive life-saving therapy to our community,” said Hani Alkhatib, M.D., director of UPMC Western Maryland's Structural Heart Program. “Our patients can continue to have their family and friends support [them] throughout their care, ultimate resulting in better outcomes.”

UPMC Western Maryland’s first TAVR was performed on Ed Root, Ed.D., who at the time of surgery was 83. The procedure involves inserting a catheter through the patient’s leg or chest and then implanting an artificial valve through the catheter. The recovery time is minimal; Root had his procedure at 7 a.m.; he was home at 1:30 p.m. the following day.

“It meant a lot to me that I did not have to travel for this treatment,” Root said. “People in our area are very lucky that TAVR is now being performed in their backyard.”