UNC Heart Valve Team Successfully Performs First-Ever Suprasternal Procedure Using the Evolut–R Valve

Thomas Caranasos, MD, and John Vavalle, MD, performed the first transcatheter aortic valve replacement in the world using a suprasternal approach with the Aegis Surgical Transit system and the Medtronic Evolut-R valve earlier this month.

This surgical approach, developed at UNC, avoids having to make an incision on the chest and is ideal for patients whose blood vessels are not large enough to allow for the traditional transfemoral access.

“This is a really nice approach for patients,” said Dr. Vavalle, who noted that the procedure is done without any catheters or IVs into any of the blood vessels in the groin.

“The real benefit, is that as soon as the procedure is over, the patient can get up and walk off the operating table,” he remarked.

“We really think this has some tremendous advantages for a very fast recovery,” added Vavalle.

Dr. Vavalle reported that this week’s procedure was successfully completed in under two hours, with the patient up and walking around shortly afterwards and discharged home 48 hours later.

The UNC Heart Valve team began its TAVR program in November 2014 and has treated approximately 50 patients in that time, and is quickly growing into one of the busiest programs in North Carolina.

By Kristen Hendrickson, Department of Medicine