Archive for the ‘Cardiac and Cardiovascular Surgical Procedures’ Category

Cardiothoracic surgeons at UC San Francisco performed the first robotically assisted mitral valve prolapse surgery in San Francisco.

Reporter: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

Mitral valve surgery is performed when the heart’s mitral valve needs to be repaired. Traditionally, mitral valve surgery required opening the chest and putting the patient on heart-lung bypass to keep blood circulating during surgery. Since 2016, UCSF surgeons have been performing minimally invasive mitral valve surgery without having to open the sternum and with smaller incisions. Robotically assisted mitral valve surgery adds yet another level of precision.

“Robotically assisted mitral valve surgery allows us to make even smaller incisions with greater precision,” said Tom C. Nguyen, M.D., robotic heart surgeon and chief of Cardiothoracic Surgery at UCSF. “By using the robotic arms, we have more degrees of articulation than with our natural wrists. The robot also magnifies the surgical field 10X in 3D. Ultimately, this translates into more precise surgery with faster recovery.”

During the robotically assisted surgery, the surgeon looks through a 3D camera to see the mitral valve as well as other structures inside the heart. The surgeon uses the robotic surgical system to guide the robotic arms and movements of the surgical instruments.

“Every valve looks different, and the extraordinary 3D vision that the robot camera provides, is just a real step up from all the technologies we have been using in the past,” said Tobias Deuse, M.D., cardiac and transplant surgeon and director of Minimally-invasive Cardiac Surgery. “The camera, together with the increased mobility of the instruments, allows for a very thorough evaluation of the valve and helps us make good and long-lasting repairs.”

Thanks to these innovations, mitral valve patients have fewer complications and can be discharged within three-to-four days. This patient’s symptoms included increased fatigue and palpitations. Since the surgery, he is at home and his recovery is going well.

In addition to mitral valve surgery, there are plans for additional robotically assisted cardiothoracic surgeries, including removal of intracardiac tumors and myxomas as well as for coronary revascularization.



Other robotic surgeries currently being performed at UCSF

encompass a wide range of specialties and procedures, including:

  • removing cancerous tissue from the lungs, uterus, ovaries, colon, rectum, esophagus, bladder, prostate, head and neck, liver and pancreas. Other robotic surgeries are used for
  • the treatment of uterine fibroids and endometriosis, female pelvic organ prolapse repairs,
  • hernia repairs and
  • bariatric surgery.

Other related articles on Mitral Valve Repair published in this Open Access Online Scientific Journal include the following:

TricValve Transcatheter Bicaval Valves System – Interventional cardiologists at Cleveland Clinic have successfully completed the first implantation in North America

Reporter: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

The Patient for this historic procedure:

An 82-year-old man presenting with severe symptomatic tricuspid regurgitation (TR) and right heart failure (RHF).

Expert Opinion: The Voice of Dr. Justin D. Pearlman, MD, PhD, FACC


and another 64 articles


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Aortic Valve Transplant Via Carotid Artery at Hadassah – An Israel First

Curator and Reporter: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

The transplant using the carotid artery as the point of entry was selected. The technique of trans-carotid access, Dr. Planer, Director of Hadassah’s Catheterization Department says, “is not performed in “the majority of medical centers worldwide.”

The Medical Case

A 76-year-old man with a history of critical stenosis of his aortic valve arrived at Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem in severe cardiac shock. It was clear he needed a valve transplant urgently, but the traditional surgical options were not suitable for him because he also had severe vascular disease, anatomical limitations and had undergone previous heart bypass surgery.

Dr. Planer explains, “Until two decades ago, patients who required an aortic valve replacement had to have surgery that involved opening the chest. The recovery was long and difficult.”

This procedure, says Dr. Planer, “is performed using a hybrid approach, with catheterization specialists and cardiac surgeons.” Using this collaborative approach, Dr. Planer, Dr. Gabby Elbaz-Greener, senior catheterization specialist and head of the Structural Heart Intervention Program; Dr. Amit Korach, senior cardiac surgeon; Prof. Ronen Beeri, director of the Echocardiography Unit and senior anesthesiologist; and Dr. Tamer Abu Jreis, anesthesiology resident, successfully replaced the valve.

“Beyond choosing the right patient and the high technical capacity of the team, in a procedure such as this, it is of utmost importance for us to work harmoniously, despite coming from different disciplines,” says Dr. Planer. “Thankfully, the operation went smoothly and without complications. We are proud to be the first team in Israel to carry it out and pave the way for an additional therapeutic option for these seriously ill patients. Our patient has now been discharged to begin rehabilitation, and we wish him a full recovery.”


Transcarotid Compared With Other Alternative Access Routes for Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement

Originally publishedhttps://doi.org/10.1161/CIRCINTERVENTIONS.118.006388 Circulation: Cardiovascular Interventions. 2018;11:e006388




The optimal access for patients undergoing transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) who are not candidates for a transfemoral approach has not been elucidated. The purpose of this study was to compare the safety, feasibility, and early clinical outcomes of transcarotid TAVR compared with thoracic approaches.


Methods and Results

From a multicenter consecutive cohort of 329 alternative-access TAVR patients (2012–2017), we identified 101 patients who underwent transcarotid TAVR and 228 patients who underwent a transapical or transaortic TAVR. Preprocedural success and 30-day clinical outcomes were compared using multivariable propensity score analysis to account for between-group differences in baseline characteristics. All transcarotid cases were performed under general anesthesia, mainly using the left common carotid artery (97%). Propensity-matched groups had similar rates of 30-day all-cause mortality (2.1% versus 4.6%; P=0.37), stroke (2.1% versus 3.5%; P=0.67; transcarotid versus transapical/transaortic, respectively), new pacemaker implantation, and major vascular complications. Transcarotid TAVR was associated with significantly less new-onset atrial fibrillation (3.2% versus 19.0%; P=0.002), major or life-threatening bleeding (4.3% versus 19.9%; P=0.002), acute kidney injury (none versus 12.1%; P=0.002), and shorter median length of hospital stay (6 versus 8 days; P<0.001).



Transcarotid vascular access for TAVR is safe and feasible and is associated with encouraging short-term clinical outcomes. Our data suggest a clinical benefit of transcarotid TAVR with respect to atrial fibrillation, major bleeding, acute kidney injury, and length of stay compared with the more invasive transapical or transaortic strategies. Randomized studies are required to ascertain whether transcarotid TAVR yields equivalent results to other alternative vascular access routes.


This is the first report of a multicenter propensity score-matched comparison between transcarotid and transthoracic access. The main findings are (1) transcarotid TAVR is safe and feasible in appropriately selected patients with a high rate of device success (87%); (2) compared with transapical and transaortic TAVR, the transcarotid approach was associated with no significant difference in rates of 30-day all-cause mortality, stroke, new pacemaker implantation, major vascular complications, and hemodynamic performance; (3) transcarotid TAVR is associated with significantly less new-onset atrial fibrillation, acute kidney injury, major or life-threatening bleeding, and shorter hospital stay.

TAVR technology has evolved considerably in the last few years allowing for the treatment of 85% to 90% of patients via the transfemoral route.4,15,16 Until recently, the transapical and transaortic approaches were considered the main alternative nontransfemoral routes, with comparable short- and long-term outcomes.17–19 Despite their advantage of simplifying valve positioning, major surgical manipulation of the chest wall is required. Furthermore, these techniques are limited by relative contraindications, such as significant respiratory failure in case of transapical, and porcelain aorta, as well as previous heart surgery, in cases of transaortic. Transcarotid TAVR was first performed in France in 2009,20 and then was subsequently adopted by several other centers.7–9,21,22 These experiences demonstrated that the surgical approach to the carotid artery is safe and relatively uncomplicated because of its superficial location, and operative experience with the carotid arteries is widespread among cardiovascular surgeons. We prefer performing transcarotid TAVR using the left common carotid because it allows superior coaxial alignment of the THV with the aortic annulus, although both sides can be used.9,10,21

In the current study, the 30-day crude stroke or TIA rate in the transcarotid group was 3% (2 disabling and 1 nondisabling stroke), with no significant difference compared with the transapical/transaortic group (as previously described in smaller studies).10,11 This stroke rate is lower than that observed in the cohort of patients included in the multicenter French Transcarotid TAVR Registry and others.8,9 As previously described,8,21 these neurological events are not always localized ipsilateral to the CCA used for TAVR. This suggests that there are other phenomena at play in addition to carotid arterial manipulation, such as new-onset postprocedural atrial fibrillation, periprocedural hypotension, inadequate contralateral carotid perfusion, and the THV deployment itself. Although the rates of preimplant and postimplant balloon valvuloplasty were significantly higher in the transapical/transaortic group even after adjustment, this did not translate to a higher risk of stroke or TIA among the transapical/transaortic patients. The low rate of stroke observed in this study may be attributed to careful patient selection and the intraoperative assessment of the functional integrity of the circle of Willis as used in one center in this study, using indirect methods, such as backflow blood pressure during carotid clamping and cerebral oximetry monitoring.7 However, the optimal preprocedural evaluation and periprocedural neurological monitoring during transcarotid TAVR are yet to be determined. Also, the optimal antithrombotic regimen and the role of embolic protection devices23–25 require further study to determine efficacy in the reduction of the risk of cerebral ischemia, specifically in patients undergoing transcarotid TAVR as literature is scarce in these patients.

Other major findings of this study were that transcarotid TAVR was significantly associated with a reduction in major or life-threatening bleeding and shorter LOS, compared with transapical/transaortic TAVR. This could be explained by (1) less-invasive access site exposure in the case of transcarotid TAVR compared with a minithoracotomy or hemisternotomy in the transapical/transaortic approach; (2) less ventilator use and shorter intensive care unit stay in transcarotid TAVR10; and (3) less pain during the postprocedural recovery and earlier patient mobilization. The lower incidence of new-onset atrial fibrillation among transcarotid TAVR patients may also partly explain shorter LOS. Any incision of the thoracic cavity is associated with various forms of supraventricular arrhythmia, most commonly atrial fibrillation, which may then translate to a prolonged hospital stay.26,27 A reduction of LOS is a critical component of current strategies to control overall costs associated with TAVR and may be the primary driver of reduced expenditure associated with transfemoral TAVR compared with alternative-access TAVR.28–30 Furthermore, severe bleeding may be associated with postprocedural hypovolemia and may explain, in part, the reduction in the rates of severe acute kidney injury in transcarotid cases compared with the transapical/transaortic approach.31,32 Similar findings were previously reported when comparing transapical or transaortic with transfemoral access. Blackstone et al33 reported their results in 501 propensity score-matched patients undergoing transapical versus transfemoral TAVR. More patients in the transapical group experienced adverse procedural events, longer length of stay, slower recovery, and higher transfusion rates. Similar results were published by Arai et al,34 who reported significantly higher rates of life-threatening bleeding when comparing transaortic (n=289) with transfemoral TAVR (n=467; 6% versus 3%, respectively; P=0.021) without a significant difference in other major outcomes. Our data also suggest that the risk of major vascular complications are decreased with a transcarotid TAVR approach (matched analysis, 3.2% versus 10.7%; P=0.05), although the study was underpowered for this specific end point and did not reach statistical significance.

Postoperative echocardiographic data showed favorable results in both groups, as either access provides direct aortic annular access and may allow superior positioning in particular anatomies (Figure). The observed 30-day mortality in the adjusted analysis (2.1% versus 4.6%; P=0.37; transcarotid versus transapical/transaortic, respectively) was also statistically comparable between groups and lower than that previously reported in transcarotid TAVR cohorts.8,9


Study Limitations

This report consists of a retrospective analysis of prospectively acquired data and is subject to the limitations inherent in this study design. Selection of patients was not random and may not be generalizable to other centers. Other alternative approaches, such as the subclavian route, were not evaluated because of the limited number of patients undergoing TAVR by subclavian access at the participating centers. The superficial position of the carotid artery coupled with the more complex exposure of the subclavian and its proximity to the brachial plexus, and the risks associated with its use if an ipsilateral internal mammary artery was used as a coronary bypass graft, have lead us to favor transcarotid over the subclavian approach. As well, specific end points, such as mortality, stroke, and major vascular complications, may have not reached statistical significance because of the small sample size and short-term follow-up. However, this is the largest multicenter study evaluating the transcarotid approach using a risk-adjusted comparator arm. Small numbers did not permit us to ascertain device-specific outcomes. However, adjusting the analysis for type of THV, we found that the association between decreased major bleeding and the transcarotid approach was modulated, in part, by the use of newer valve types with their lower profile delivery systems but was not entirely explained by this feature of the newer THVs (Appendix in the Data Supplement). Taken further, this association may also be access site specific and not entirely device specific. Accessing proximal high-pressure structures, such the left ventricular apex and ascending aorta, may be associated with less ability to adequately control bleeding compared with distal arterial sites, such as the carotid artery. Device-specific features of the newer TAVR prostheses, such as improved sealing skirts, did not influence postprocedural aortic regurgitation, need for a permanent pacemaker, pressure gradients, and overall procedural success rates in our study, which were similar between the transcarotid and transapical/transaortic groups.

Periprocedural cerebral monitoring was variable among institutions during transcarotid TAVR, reflecting a lack of consensus in the literature, and the rates of neurological events may have been underestimated because systematic evaluation by magnetic resonance imaging was not routinely performed following TAVR. However, the incidence of stroke/TIA was low and did not differ among centers (Table VII in the Data Supplement); the optimal perioperative neuromonitoring technique remains to be prospectively elucidated. However, all clinically significant neurological changes were identified, and all sites had a low-threshold trigger for consultation by a neurologist and the performance of neuroimaging post-TAVR. Preprocedural and postprocedural antiplatelet and anticoagulation therapy were not consistently captured across the study centers, which may confound the association between the approaches studied and outcomes, such as bleeding, cerebrovascular events, and mortality. However, all centers stopped the second antiplatelet agent at least 48 hours before the procedure for patients undergoing transapical or transaortic TAVR. We, therefore, cannot attribute the increased bleeding rates associated with transapical/transaortic solely to preoperative double antiplatelet therapy.



Transcarotid vascular access for TAVR is safe, feasible, and associated with encouraging short-term clinical outcomes in terms of mortality, stroke, and major vascular complications in patients who are not candidates to transfemoral TAVR. Furthermore, the transcarotid approach was associated with lower rates of major or life-threatening bleeding, new-onset atrial fibrillation, acute kidney injury, and shorter LOS compared with transapical or transaortic access. Larger prospective studies with longer follow-up are needed to confirm the safety and clinical efficacy of transcarotid TAVR compared with alternative approaches.




Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement via the Transcarotid Access

The Best Alternative?
Originally published
Circulation: Cardiovascular Interventions. 2018;11:e007459

See Editorial by Chamandi et al


Figure. Comparative 30-day/in-hospital outcomes of different access routes for transcatheter aortic valve replacement ( TAVR) according to the VARC definitions.




Other related articles published in this Open Access Online Scientific Journal Include:

90 articles on TAVR and TAVI



Volume Six: Interventional Cardiology for Disease Diagnosis and Cardiac Surgery for Condition Treatment. On com since 12/24/2018 https://lnkd.in/e_CTb4R


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TricValve Transcatheter Bicaval Valves System – Interventional cardiologists at Cleveland Clinic have successfully completed the first implantation in North America

Reporter: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

UPDATED on 7/22/2022

Cardiothoracic surgeons at UC San Francisco performed the first robotically assisted mitral valve prolapse surgery in San Francisco.

Reporter: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN



The Patient for this historic procedure:

An 82-year-old man presenting with severe symptomatic tricuspid regurgitation (TR) and right heart failure (RHF).

Expert Opinion: The Voice of Dr. Justin D. Pearlman, MD, PhD, FACC

The TricValve addresses the problem of severe ìncompetance of the tricuspid valve with a relatively simple procedure.

Instead of the challenge of replacing the defective valve, a catheter procedùre places valves at the two venous intake locations, the superior and ìnferior vena cava. A valve at the superior vena cava entrance to the right atrium occurs occasionally in nature, but is usually absent or fenestrated, covering the medial end if the crista supraventricularis.

A similar termed valve is occasionally found in nature on the inferior vena cava. These supernumerary valves can arrest back flow of pressure and volume from the right atrium to the upper and lower venous systems, and alleviate in particular congestion of the liver.

Normally the right atrial pressure is low, in which case this would offer no significant advantage for reproductive success natural selection to offset potential interference with blood flow into the right atrium that might promote thrombosis [Folia Morphology Morphology 66(4):303-6, MRuso].

However, in a setting of right heart failure, such as occurs from pulmonary hypertension, the tricuspid valve often becomes incompetent, and placement of the pair of vena cava valves can alleviate upstream consequences, albeit at the cost of risk of thrombosis and future impediment to other future procedures such as ablation of supraventricular arrhythmia.

The vena cava valves placed by catheter at the Cleveland Clinic helped an 80 year old man alleviate his pressing issue of hepatic congestion. Unlike a replacement tricuspid valve this procedure does not alleviate high pressures dilatìng the right atrium. Instead, it can worsen that problem.

The CLASP II TR trial is investigating the Edwards PASCAL transcatheter repair system [CLASP II TR, Edwards Lifesciences Corp, NIH NCT 0497145]

Survival data for surgìcal tricuspid valve replacements reported 37+-10 percent ten year survival, with average all cause survival of just 8.5 years [Z HIscan, Euro J CT Surgery 32(2) Aug 2007]. None-the‐less,  comparison of patients with vs without intervention for incompetance of the trìcuspid valve favored mechanical intervention [G Dreyfus Ann Thorac Surg 49:706-11,1990, D Adams, JACC 65:1931-8, 2015]. Time will tell which interventìon will prevail, and when these catheter alternatives to open chest surgery should be deployed.

The first implantation in North America: TricValve Transcatheter Bicaval Valves System

The structural heart procedure occurred in February 2022.

Rishi Puri, MD, PhD, an interventional cardiologist with Cleveland Clinic, and Samir Kapadia, MD, chair of cardiovascular medicine at Cleveland Clinic, performed the procedure. Puri has years of experience with the TricValve system, participating in a thorough analysis of its safety and effectiveness in 2021.

The TricValve system features two biological valves designed to be implanted via femoral vein access into the patient’s superior vena cava and inferior vena cava. This allows a therapy without impacting the patient’s native tricuspid valve. It is available in multiple sizes, allowing cardiologists to choose the best option for each individual patient.

Cleveland Clinic’s statement detailing the successful procedure notes that patients with severe TR and RHF have typically had limited treatment options. Tricuspid valve surgery is associated with significant risks, for instance, and prescribing diuretics is problematic when the patient also presents with kidney problems.

“TricValve can potentially provide an effective and low-risk solution for many patients who currently have no treatment options,” Puri said, adding that the workflow is quite similar to transcatheter aortic valve replacement.

The TricValve Transcatheter Bicaval Valves System was developed by P+F Products + Features GmbH, a healthcare technology company based out of Vienna, Austria. The solution was granted the FDA’s Breakthrough Device designation in December 2020, but it has still not gained full FDA approval.

This procedure was completed under a compassionate-use clearance from the FDA.

Image Source:


Related Structural Heart Disease Content:

The latest data on mitral valve infective endocarditis after TAVR

VIDEO: TAVR durability outperforms surgical valves

How the continued rise of TAVR has impacted SAVR outcomes

VIDEO: Pascal effective in transcatheter repair of tricuspid valve regurgitation

VIDEO: MitraClip vs. surgical mitral valve replacement

Older LAAO patients, especially women, face a higher risk of complications




Other related articles published in this Open Access Online Scientific Journal include the following:


The LINK, above will take the e-Reader to:

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Our book on Cardiac Repair Procedures




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Breakthrough Procedure in Aortic Valve Repair: VIDEO: How to Perform a Transcaval TAVR Procedure

Reporter: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

UPDATED on 7/21/2022

VIDEO: TAVR’s long-term impact on patient care

Dave Fornell | June 23, 2022 | TAVR

We spoke with Azeem Latib, MD, section head and director of interventional cardiology and director of structural heart interventions for Montefiore Health System. Latib also served as a program director for the 2022 Transcatheter Valve Therapeutics (TVT) Structural Heart Summit.

In our chat, he summarized the key advances in transcatheter aortic valve replacements (TAVR) therapy and explained a key TAVR trend that came out of TVT for “lifetime patient management.”

It was clear at the meeting that the standard-of-care thinking on TAVR replacements has shifted from just getting a valve implanted and managing immediate complications to looking decades down the road and considering next steps with that same patient. TAVR now makes up about 70% or more of the procedure volume for aortic valve replacements. Latib said the focus of many sessions at TVT was on the longer-term management of valve patients since it is clear TAVR is becoming the standard of care. If a patient gets surgical or TAVR valve today, they will likely need a replacement in 10-20 years. More times than not, Latib explained, this replacement will come in the form of another TAVR valve deployed inside the first valve.

Latib said several sessions discussed what strategy is best, with many experts favoring surgical valve replacement first and two TAVR procedures later in life to eliminate the need for open heart surgery when the patient is much older and more frail. However, many experts admitted this might not be the strategy that gets adopted as a practical standard of care because most patients want the less invasive option versus surgery. 

“I think all the companies have realized that they need to move their technologies in that direction,” Latib explained. “The bar has been set really high and so we are going to see a lot of new technologies or iterations of technology.”

The Edwards Lifesciences Sapien X4, the forth generation of the Sapien valve, is about to start the ALLIANCE pivotal trial. It is designed specifically for lower-risk patients with a lower frame height for better coronary access and it is the first balloon-expandable valve that allows the operator to turn the valve to align the commissures, which also will aid further coronary access. The valve is also designed to reduce the need to use oversized valves to ensure a good fit in the anatomy

“What this means is when you do the next valve you are not going to have issues with coronary access and having a more physiologically aligned valve on the commissures made help the valve last longer,” Latib said. 

He said the Abbott Portico and Boston Scientific Acurate Neo2 TAVR systems are also undergoing revisions to make them more user friendly and compatible with the shifting needs of TAVR.

More resources:

VIDEO: What is needed to build a structural heart program — Interview with Charles Davidson, MD

VIDEO: TAVR durability outperforms surgical valves — Interview with Michael Reardon, MD

How the continued rise of TAVR has impacted SAVR outcomes

Is TAVR a sensible choice for patients with moderate, symptomatic aortic stenosis? Medtronic aims to find out

Left bundle branch block after TAVR hurts outcomes, even when no permanent pacemaker is required

Find more TAVR content

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Tiberio Frisoli, M.D., interventional structural cardiologist, senior staff physician, Henry Ford Hospital, explains how his center performs transcaval transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) access for patients who have suboptimal abdominal aortic and femoral vascular anatomy. Transcaval access was pioneered at Henry Ford Hospital and involves using femoral vein access and then using a surgical radio frequency cutter to bore a hole from the interior venacava into the aorta to allow the TAVR delivery catheter to path through. 

This procedure was developed to enable more patients to receive TAVR via the preferred femoral access route. Some patients are not candidates for femoral artery access because of calcified lesions and heart atherosclerotic plaque, which narrows the vessel lumen, and makes it difficult to thread catheters through. The transcaval access technique can bypass the restricted arteries or heavy calcified plaques to still enable a minimally invasive procedure without the need for surgery. 

This video was produced in partnership from Henry Ford Hospital.

Related Transcaval TAVR Content:

VIDEO: Transcaval Access in TAVR Procedures — Interview with Adam Greenbaum, M.D.

How to Perform Transcaval TAVR Access

VIDEO: Walk Through of the Henry Ford Hospital Structural Heart Cath Lab

Study Deems Transcaval Valve Replacement Pioneered at Henry Ford Hospital Successful

First Transcaval Aortic Valve Replacement Performed in Europe

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CentraCare First in World to Use 4D Hologram Technology to Successfully Complete Structural Heart Procedure

Reporter: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

Published Jun 23, 2021 in Heart & Vascular, Media ReleasesAuthor: CentraCare

EchoPixel’s Pre-Planning and Intra-Operative Technologies

EchoPixel’s pre-planning and intra-operative technologies reduced complex heart procedure time while improving quality of outcomes

CentraCare, one of the largest health systems in Minnesota, has successfully completed the first structural heart procedure in the world using 4D hologram technology, which was developed by EchoPixel. Jacob Dutcher, MD, an interventional cardiologist and director of the structural heart program at CentraCare Heart & Vascular Center, conducted the WATCHMAN implant, which is a one-time, minimally invasive procedure for people with atrial fibrillation who need an alternative to blood thinners to protect them from a stroke. Approximately six million people in the U.S. suffer from atrial fibrillation and many of them are intolerant to blood thinners.

This new approach to the WATCHMAN procedure combines both EchoPixel’s pre-planning True3D software with its intra-operative Holographic Therapy Guidance (HTG) software platform. By leveraging mixed reality capabilities, EchoPixel brings precision to structural heart procedures by utilizing HTG, a transformative 4D technology that enables the entire heart team to interact with a patient’s specific organs and tissues as if they were actual, physical objects. These technologies reduce procedure time, improve accuracy of the procedure, reduce risk of complication and hasten recovery.

CentraCare Heart & Vascular Center is the first in the world to use EchoPixel’s technology both before and during a structural heart procedure. “EchoPixel pre-planning True3D software helped us reduce our procedure times by more than 27% and increase optimal procedure outcome by 20%. EchoPixel-HTG is taking us to the next level,” says Dr. Dutcher. “As one of the world’s largest WATCHMAN implanting sites, we are always looking for new ways to advance and improve patient care, and are proud to be the first center in the world to offer this novel imaging technology.”

“Dr. Dutcher has been very influential in the development and evolution of our HTG technology,” says Sergio Aguirre, CEO of EchoPixel. “Having him on board has helped us hone our device and approach as we draw on his vast experience with this procedure. We are looking forward to continuing to work with him and CentraCare to adapt our software to other structural heart procedures, providing an even greater benefit to patients.”

About CentraCare Heart & Vascular Center

CentraCare Heart & Vascular Center is one of the largest cardiovascular programs in Minnesota, offering the latest advancements in care, technology and treatment. In 2020 U.S. News & World Report rated the program as #41 in the nation for cardiology and heart surgery. It is part of CentraCare, a Minnesota health system that includes eight hospitals in St. Cloud, Long Prairie, Melrose, Monticello, Paynesville, Redwood Falls, Sauk Centre and Willmar. The health system also owns more than 30 clinics along with 18 senior housing facilities and long-term care facilities throughout the region. Learn more about CentraCare Heart & Vascular Center

About EchoPixel

Headquartered in Silicon Valley, EchoPixel is a venture capital-backed startup and a pioneer in creating the operating room of the future. The company’s technologies include the first pre-operative True3D planning platform and intra-operative Holographic Therapy Guidance (HTC) software, which allow physicians to interact with patient-specific organs and tissues as if they were actual, physical objects. EchoPixel’s True3D software platform has already become the standard of care at world-leading congenital heart defect and structural heart centers. Learn more at echopixeltech.com.

Media Contacts:

Birgit Johnston, EchoPixel



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Cardiac Surgery Recommendations Switch to Patient Blood Management

— Four societies outline pre- to post-op strategies to improve outcomes

by Crystal Phend, Contributing Editor, MedPage Today June 30, 2021

Reporter: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

STS/SCA/AmSECT/SABM Update to the Clinical Practice Guidelines on Patient Blood Management

Published:June 30, 2021 DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.athoracsur.2021.03.033

Switching from “blood conservation” to the broader “patient blood management” (PBM) approach is probably the biggest change, Tibi told MedPage Today.

“Basically we’re considering blood as another vital organ,” he said. “Why that is important is because now we look at a patient’s blood system as an organ that needs to be assessed and treated for the sake of that organ and not simply to decide when or when not to transfuse.”

Recommendations span the entire spectrum from preoperative assessment of bleeding risk and anemia to intraoperative perfusion and blood salvage practices to postoperative treatment with human albumin for volume replacement.

“Most hospitals around the U.S. are acutely aware of patient blood management and, to some degree or another, are implementing many of the things we are talking about,” noted Tibi, who is immediate past president of SABM. Nationwide, the amount of blood transfused in cardiac surgery has dropped 45% in the past 10 to 15 years but still ranges widely from center to center.



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Application of Natural Language Processing (NLP) on ~1MM cases of semi-structured echocardiogram reports: Identification of aortic stenosis (AS) cases – Accuracy comparison to administrative diagnosis codes (IDC 9/10 codes)

Reporter and Curator: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

Large-Scale Identification of Aortic Stenosis and its Severity Using Natural Language Processing on Electronic Health Records

Background Systematic case identification is critical to improving population health, but widely used diagnosis code-based approaches for conditions like valvular heart disease are inaccurate and lack specificity. Objective To develop and validate natural language processing (NLP) algorithms to identify aortic stenosis (AS) cases and associated parameters from semi-structured echocardiogram reports and compare its accuracy to administrative diagnosis codes. Methods Using 1,003 physician-adjudicated echocardiogram reports from Kaiser Permanente Northern California, a large, integrated healthcare system (>4.5 million members), NLP algorithms were developed and validated to achieve positive and negative predictive values >95% for identifying AS and associated echocardiographic parameters. Final NLP algorithms were applied to all adult echocardiography reports performed between 2008-2018, and compared to ICD-9/10 diagnosis code-based definitions for AS found from 14 days before to six months after the procedure date. Results A total of 927,884 eligible echocardiograms were identified during the study period among 519,967 patients. Application of the final NLP algorithm classified 104,090 (11.2%) echocardiograms with any AS (mean age 75.2 years, 52% women), with only 67,297 (64.6%) having a diagnosis code for AS between 14 days before and up to six months after the associated echocardiogram. Among those without associated diagnosis codes, 19% of patients had hemodynamically significant AS (i.e., greater than mild disease). Conclusion A validated NLP algorithm applied to a systemwide echocardiography database was substantially more accurate than diagnosis codes for identifying AS. Leveraging machine learning-based approaches on unstructured EHR data can facilitate more effective individual and population management than using administrative data alone.

Large-scale identification of aortic stenosis and its severity using natural language processing on electronic health records

Author links open overlay panel

Matthew D.SolomonMD, PhD∗†GraceTabadaMPH∗AmandaAllen∗Sue HeeSungMPH∗Alan S.GoMD∗‡§‖

Division of Research, Kaiser Permanente Northern California, Oakland, California

Department of Cardiology, Kaiser Oakland Medical Center, Oakland, California

Department of Health Systems Science, Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine, Pasadena, California


Departments of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California

Department of Medicine, Stanford University, Stanford, California

Available online 18 March 2021.



Systematic case identification is critical to improving population health, but widely used diagnosis code–based approaches for conditions like valvular heart disease are inaccurate and lack specificity.


To develop and validate natural language processing (NLP) algorithms to identify aortic stenosis (AS) cases and associated parameters from semi-structured echocardiogram reports and compare their accuracy to administrative diagnosis codes.


Using 1003 physician-adjudicated echocardiogram reports from Kaiser Permanente Northern California, a large, integrated healthcare system (>4.5 million members), NLP algorithms were developed and validated to achieve positive and negative predictive values > 95% for identifying AS and associated echocardiographic parameters. Final NLP algorithms were applied to all adult echocardiography reports performed between 2008 and 2018 and compared to ICD-9/10 diagnosis code–based definitions for AS found from 14 days before to 6 months after the procedure date.


A total of 927,884 eligible echocardiograms were identified during the study period among 519,967 patients. Application of the final NLP algorithm classified 104,090 (11.2%) echocardiograms with any AS (mean age 75.2 years, 52% women), with only 67,297 (64.6%) having a diagnosis code for AS between 14 days before and up to 6 months after the associated echocardiogram. Among those without associated diagnosis codes, 19% of patients had hemodynamically significant AS (ie, greater than mild disease).


A validated NLP algorithm applied to a systemwide echocardiography database was substantially more accurate than diagnosis codes for identifying AS. Leveraging machine learning–based approaches on unstructured electronic health record data can facilitate more effective individual and population management than using administrative data alone.


Aortic stenosis Echocardiography Machine learning Population health Quality and outcomes Valvular heart disease



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Medical Device Representatives coach Surgeons in the Operating Rooms

Reporter: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN
Medical Device Representatives: The Untold Story

What Reps Don’t Do

As a surgeon and a healthcare executive, I’ve learned that the best device representatives are defined by what they won’t do: push a physician to use their product when it’s inappropriate. Villa says she sometimes sees patients who have blood clots in their arteries. “I will never recommend our product when there’s a clot because you can do more harm than good,” she says. “Ultimately, it’s up to the doctor’s discretion, but I’ll come right out and tell them, ‘I don’t know if CSI is the right product for that.’”

Just like physicians, device sales representatives have reputations to protect. A physician will recommend a helpful and knowledgeable sales representative to a colleague; but if the sales representative is clearly only interested in their bottom line — as opposed to the patient’s well-being — they’ll soon find that their calls go unanswered. For this reason, Nasser says he often finds himself advising physicians that his product isn’t appropriate for a patient. “You might not get the case,” he says, “but you’ll earn the trust of the physician.”

There’s a second — and more important — explanation for why these device representatives won’t push their products to boost sales. Simply put, that’s not why they’re in business. Nasser, for example, got into device sales after his father died of a heart attack. “I approach every case as if that were my family member and I ask what would be best for them,” he says.

“You can’t fake the passion and the caring you have,” adds Staub. “People see through if it’s just a business transaction.” Instead, he attributes his longevity to “engaging physicians in an educational way and getting across that you can be a partner in the care of their patients.”

When asked why she does her job, Villa thinks about the 77-year old woman she helped the day she drove to the hospital early in the morning. When the woman’s foot, which initially had turned grey, started to turn pink after the procedure, Villa says she was overcome with “a wonderful feeling. That patient had a fear of losing her limb and woke up knowing that her leg was still there. Saving limbs and saving lives. That’s the beauty of our job.”

¹ O’Connor B, Pollner F, Fugh-Berman A (2016) Salespeople in the Surgical Suite: Relationships between Surgeons and Medical Device Representatives. PLoS ONE 11(8): e0158510. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0158510

² White, T. Stanford Medicine Magazine, 2006, Fall Issue. Father of invention – Stanford Medicine Magazine – Stanford University School of Medicine

³ Gawande, A. The New Yorker, October 3, 2011. The Coach in the Operating Room | The New Yorker





From: Cardiovascular Business <announcements@mail.cardiovascularbusiness.com>

Reply-To: Cardiovascular Business <announcements@mail.cardiovascularbusiness.com>

Date: Monday, March 1, 2021 at 10:30 AM

To: “Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN” <AvivaLev-Ari@alum.berkeley.edu>

Subject: The Untold Story of Medical Device Reps: A Physician’s Perspective

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Bioresorbable Stent Clinical Trials with New Esprit Below-the-knee Scaffold

Reporter: Irina Robu, PhD

Abbott announced on September 3, 2020, the beginning of the LIFE-BTK clinical trial to evaluate effectiveness and safety of  the Esprit BTK Everolimus Eluting Resorbable Scaffold System. The Esprit BTK System consists of a thin strutted scaffold made of poly-L-lactide, a semi-crystalline bioresorbable polymer engineered to resist vessel recoil and provide a platform for drug delivery. The scaffold is coated with poly-D, L-lactide (PDLLA) and the cytostatic drug, everolimus.

This trial is the first Investigational Device Exemption in the US to assess a fully bioresorbable stent to treat blocked arteries below the knees, also known as critical limb ischemia in people battling advanced stages of peripheral artery disease. For people with CLI, blocked vessels weaken blood flow to the lower extremities, which can lead to severe pain, wounds, and in severe cases, limb amputation.

At this time, the standard of care for patients battling critical limb ischemia is balloon angioplasty, which depend on on a small balloon delivered via a catheter to the blockage to compress it against the arterial wall, opening the vessel and restoring blood flow. Yet, blockages treated only with balloon angioplasty have poor short- and long-term results, and in many cases the vessels become blocked again, lacking additional treatment.

Patients treated with balloon angioplasty often require several procedures on treated arteries, and  a drug eluting resorbable device is if at all possible suited to provide mechanical support, decrease the chance of the vessel re-narrowing and then slowly disappear over time. At this time, there are no drug eluding stents, drug coated balloons or bare metal stents approved for use below the knee. Since, there is a limited number of options for stents below the knee, the FDA has granted Esprit BTK breakthrough device designation, which simplifies review and pre-market approval timelines.

According to Abbott, Espirit BTK System is not a permanent implant, but it does provide support to an artery right after a balloon angioplasty, stopping the vessel from reclosing. As soon as it is implanted, the scaffold distributes a drug over a few months that encourages healing and keeps the artery open. The scaffold is naturally resorbed into the body over time, like dissolving sutures, and eventually leaves only a healed artery behind.

The LIFE-BTK trial is the first Investigational Device Exemption trial in the U.S. to evaluate a fully dissoluble device to treat critical limb ischemia in people battling advanced stages of peripheral artery disease (PAD). The trial will be run by principal investigators Brian DeRubertis, M.D. (vascular surgeon, UCLA), Sahil Parikh M.D., (interventional cardiologist, New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center.






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Targeting Atherosclerotic Plaques with Stents made of Drug-eluting Biomaterials

Reporter: Daniel Menzin, BSc BioMedical Engineering, expected, May 2021, Research Assistant 4, Core Applications Developer and Acting CTO 


Atherosclerosis is a chronic cardiovascular disease with a multitude of different implications. A coronary artery plaque may lead to congestive heart failure while an aortic plaque may cause angina. Both can quite possibly lead to a heart attack unless properly managed. One way to manage this condition is through the use of stents made of a mesh that is expanded following placement into the diseased vessel.

Unfortunately, stents are oftentimes initially effective but eventually restenosis occurs. Restenosis is a condition in which the affected vessel becomes blocked again. Cholesterol-rich blood vessel environments oftentimes lead to an irritation that results in white blood cells aggregating in the area and releasing proinflammatory chemokines and cytokines, which cause fibrosis. To make matters worse, the cholesterol plaques undergo compression against the vessel wall which causes vessel injury and further inflammation. This leads to thrombus formation and may potentiate neointimal hyperplasia, an abnormal proliferation and migration of smooth muscle cells in the tunica intima. Neointimal hyperplasia plays a major role in restenosis.

Recent research has found that interfacing drug eluting biomaterials with stents may help prevent restenosis. One study showed that rapamycin delivered with acid labile and ROS-sensitive forms of Beta-cyclodextrin produced promising results when treating atherosclerosis in rat models (Dou, et al). In this promising new paradigm of treatment, non-proinflammatory biomaterials are interfaced with stents. Once inflammation appears the biomaterial will begin to degrade, slowly releasing the drug which suppresses the underlying immune reaction and the resulting inflammation.



Dou Y;Chen Y;Zhang X;Xu X;Chen Y;Guo J;Zhang D;Wang R;Li X;Zhang J; “Non-Proinflammatory and Responsive Nanoplatforms for Targeted Treatment of Atherosclerosis.” Biomaterials, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 29 July 2017, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28778000/.


Other related articles published in this Open Access Online Scientific Journal include: 

75 articles found in the search 



Among them:

Stent Design and Thrombosis:  Bifurcation Intervention, Drug Eluting Stents (DES) and Biodegrable Stents

Curator: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN



Drug Eluting Stents: On MIT‘s Edelman Lab’s Contributions to Vascular Biology and its Pioneering Research on DES

Author: Larry H Bernstein, MD, FACP and Curator: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN


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