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Category: Heart and Vascular

CaroMont Health Surgeons Perform Historic Cardiac Surgery

Recently, surgeons at CaroMont Regional Medical Center made history by performing the hospital’s first Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR). The state-of-the-art surgical procedure combines the expert skill of cardiac surgery with advanced imaging technology to replace damaged heart valves in patients who may not be good candidates for traditional open heart surgery. The procedure was performed by Dr. Amish Sura, a structural interventional cardiologist, and Dr. James Greelish, CaroMont Health’s Medical Director of Cardiac Surgery and the Cardiovascular Service Line Physician Administrator.

“TAVR is going to be the gold standard for how we treat for patients [who meet specific criteria] with severe, symptomatic aortic stenosis,” said Dr. Sura. “Right now, the procedure is most appropriate for patients who are not favorable candidates for open heart surgery, typically due to other complicating health issues, but we expect TAVR will become the standard approach for many more patients in the future.”

The highly-advanced procedure is used to treat aortic stenosis, which is a narrowing of the valve of the main artery that carries blood away from the heart to other parts of the body. Left untreated, aortic stenosis causes significant injury to the heart and can result in heart failure and stroke. TAVR uses a catheter, typically inserted through a small incision in the patient’s leg, to guide a tightly collapsed prosthetic valve into the heart under x-ray guidance. The prosthetic valve is then opened, much like an umbrella, and the old, diseased valve is pushed aside. Once the new valve is open, it immediately starts working. TAVR typically takes less than two hours, which is much shorter than traditional open-heart surgery.

The TAVR program at CaroMont Regional Medical Center is a further extension of the many services provided by CaroMont Heart & Vascular. This cutting edge procedure relies on a highly skilled surgical team, including Dr. Sura, Dr. Greelish and Dr. Harpreet Bhalla, an interventional cardiologist who oversees the imaging portions of each TAVR procedure. Each week at a multi-disciplinary conference, the team evaluates cases that may benefit from this new, minimally-invasive technique and works closely with Cardiac Anesthesiologists and support staff.

“CaroMont Heart & Vascular has a strong team approach to caring for our patients,” said Dr. Greelish. “This is particularly evident with TAVR because it requires a significant level of skill and collaboration, not only with doctors, but with the entire surgical team. Our level of expertise certainly places us among the top cardiovascular teams in the state and our commitment to collaboration means we always put our patients first.”

This surgery is exciting not only for its historic significance for the hospital, but it was also the first procedure done in the new state-of-the-art Hybrid Operating Room. The Hybrid OR combines a traditional operating room and cardiac catheterization lab with advanced imaging systems.

“The hybrid operating room is an important addition to our CaroMont Regional Medical Center surgical program,” said Dr. Bhalla. “We as physicians and surgeons now have more tools in our arsenal when it comes to treating complex cardiac and vascular issues. The integration of advanced imaging equipment makes this the most advanced operating room and surgical technology in our community.”

Dr. Sura sees the addition of the hybrid operating room and CaroMont Health’s work to bring more minimally-invasive technology to the community as confirmation of the health’s systems commitment to putting care first.

“The health system’s commitment to bringing advanced technology to the medical community is very encouraging,” said Dr. Sura. “I have always been a champion for TAVR because it can be life-changing and life-saving for patients.”

Provider Information

Amish Sura, MD

Dr. Sura joined CaroMont Heart & Vascular in 2018. With more than nine years of experience performing complex interventional cardiac surgeries, he participated in the original Food and Drug Administration’s clinical trials for TAVR. He received his medical degree from the UNC School of Medicine and completed his interventional cardiology residency at Emory University, where much of the early TAVR research was performed.

James Greelish, MD

Dr. Greelish joined CaroMont Heart & Vascular in 2010 from Vanderbilt University where he was an Associate Professor of Cardiac Surgery. He currently serves as the Medical Director of Cardiac Surgery and the Cardiovascular Service Line Physician Administrator for CaroMont Health. He is a graduate of the Wake Forest School of Medicine and completed his residency and fellowship at The University of Pennsylvania and The Brigham and Women’s Hospital at Harvard Medical School. He is board certified by the American Board of Thoracic Surgery.

Hapreet Bhalla, MD, FACC

Dr. Bhalla has been with CaroMont Health for nearly 19 years. He earned his medical degree from the New York University School of Medicine and is certified in cardiovascular disease and interventional cardiology by the American Board of Internal Medicine.