More Reasons to Smile After Innovative Heart Procedure
Tom Beck’s wife was 48 years old when doctors at TriHealth’s Good Samaritan Hospital used a procedure that at the time was new and innovative to save her life after a cerebellar hemorrhage. His wife passed away three years ago, but Tom is still grateful for the 30 years he was able to spend with her following her procedure.
“It’s the greatest gift I ever received, those 30 years,” he says. “She was wonderful and had such a beautiful sense of humor all of her life.”
Tom’s own sense of humor is on display as he works his way between activities during one of his regular visits to the TriHealth Cardiac Rehabilitation program at the TriHealth Fitness & Health Pavilion. He trades barbs with members of the staff and fellow patients, always with an infectious grin that spreads to anybody close by.
“I’m a nut,” Tom says. “Talk to me long enough, you’ll figure that out.”
It wasn’t much fun one day in 2018, however, when Tom was attempting to walk around a fitness track as part of his rehab routine when he couldn’t even make it around one time.
“I could always walk a mile or more, but this time I couldn’t get around once,” he says. “I couldn’t breathe and I just didn’t have any strength.”
Six years ago, Tom had a heart valve replacement for aortic stenosis, a narrowing of the valve that controls blood leaving the heart to the rest of the body. When that new valve failed, causing his troubles, Tom was off to an emergency room. A series of imaging and other tests led to the discovery of the failed valve and the question of what to do about it.
Now, more than 30 years after his wife’s procedure, it was time for Tom, at 84-years-old, to undergo his own innovative procedure from the specialists at the TriHealth Heart Institute.
Aortic stenosis is often treated by the placement of a collapsible aortic heart valve using a minimally-invasive procedure called transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR). However, some patients are at risk during a TAVR procedure to experience coronary artery obstruction, which can be fatal.
Rather than simply replace the old valve, Puvi Seshiah, MD, and William Martin, MD, intervention cardiologists with the TriHealth Heart Institute, determined that Tom was at increased risk and performed a new breakthrough heart procedure. This procedure, called a bioprosthetic aortic scallop intentional laceration(BASILICA), makes heart valve replacements safer in patients who are at high risk for complications.
BASILICA is a procedure where intervention cardiologists use catheters to slice the old leaflets of the valve, so when a new valve is put in, it doesn't obstruct the coronary arteries.
“The old valve is sliced and pushed aside by an electrified wire the size of a sewing thread,” Dr. Seshiah explains, “so the old biological valve is not removed, but instead the doctors just place the new valve inside the old one.”
Valves that are replaced using this procedure can last between 10-20 years, helping to extend patients’ lives.
“This is a game changer,” says Dr. Martin. “Especially considering the only option was once open-heart-surgery, and many elderly patients were too frail to be candidates for treatment.”
The physicians at the TriHealth Heart Institute are among just a handful of intervention cardiologists at the forefront of this groundbreaking technique. Tom’s procedure was the third BASILICA performed in Cincinnati out of only 90 performed nationwide.
Tom is feeling much better after the procedure and he stays active, including three trips per week to TriHealth Cardiac Rehabilitation, where he’s circling the track with ease, along with other exercises prescribed by the staff at the state-of-the-art facility.
“I couldn’t have done any of this before the surgery,” he says. “It really has me feeling better.”
Tom also credits the staff at the rehab center, citing their expertise, encouragement and willingness to play along with his ever-present sense of humor.
“They really are great to work with,” he says. “They obviously enjoy what they do and they do it well. They are a great group of people.”
Last Updated: March 14, 2019