Tag Archives: transcatheter aortic valve replacement

Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement

“Transcatheter aortic valve replacement is the most significant advancement in cardiology since coronary angioplasty.”

That’s what Lexington Medical Center cardiologist Dr. Robert Leonardi says about “TAVR,” a minimally invasive procedure that allows doctors to replace the heart’s aortic valve without open heart surgery.

In this video from WLTX, he explains TAVR.

Dr. Leonardi is one of the most experienced TAVR cardiologists in the Southeast and one of only a few fellowship-trained in transcatheter (non-surgical) valve procedures. A Greenville native, Dr. Leonardi earned his medical degree from the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston. He then completed an internal medicine residency at Duke University in Durham, N.C. and achieved board certification in this specialty. Dr. Leonardi finished his education with a cardiology fellowship at MUSC and fellowships in interventional cardiology and structural interventional cardiology at Emory University in Atlanta. He is also board certified in interventional cardiology and cardiovascular medicine.

By letting go of artificial boundaries between heart surgeons and interventional cardiologists, Lexington Medical Center is pleased to be using a collaborative, team-based approach to help patients with heart valve disease in our community. The team is made up of physicians from Lexington Cardiology and Lexington Cardiovascular Surgery. The hospital is proud to have performed the first fully percutaneous (no surgical incision) and first “awake” (without general anesthesia) TAVR procedures in South Carolina.

Dr. Leonardi is one of the 11 board-certified cardiologists at Lexington Cardiology, a Lexington Medical Center physician practice, dedicated to delivering the highest quality care in the treatment of cardiovascular disease.

LMC to Offer Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement

This year, Lexington Medical Heart Center will begin offering transcatheter aortic valve replacement, known as TAVR. This state-of-the-art cardiovascular technology allows doctors to replace the aortic valve without open heart surgery.

Dr. Robert Leonardi of Lexington Cardiology

Dr. Robert Leonardi of Lexington Cardiology

“TAVR is the single most important advance in interventional cardiology since coronary angioplasty,” said Dr. Robert Leonardi of Lexington Cardiology, a Lexington Medical Center physician practice.

He will perform TAVR procedures as part of a highly skilled cardiac care team that includes Dr. Robert Malanuk of Lexington Cardiology and Dr. Jeffrey Travis of Lexington Cardiovascular Surgery, a Lexington Medical Center physician practice, as well as nurses, technicians and a cardiovascular anesthesiologist.

Currently, TAVR is for patients with severe aortic stenosis who are not candidates for open heart surgery because of their age, history of heart disease, or other health issues.

Patients with severe aortic stenosis have a narrowed aortic valve that does not allow blood to flow efficiently. As the heart works harder to pump enough blood through the smaller opening in the valve, the heart eventually becomes weak. Over time, that can lead to life-threatening heart problems.


TAVR offers a less invasive option than open heart surgery. To replace the diseased aortic valve, the new aortic valve is compressed into a tube-like device called a delivery catheter that’s slightly wider than a pencil. Doctors insert the delivery catheter and the new aortic valve into an artery and thread the catheter through the body to the inside of the diseased aortic valve. Then, doctors deploy the new valve from the delivery catheter inside the diseased aortic valve, which becomes the anchor for the new valve. The new valve is functional immediately and normal blood flow is restored.

Lexington Medical Heart Center will use the Edwards SAPIEN Transcatheter Heart Valve. It’s made of bovine tissue with a stainless steel frame. The TAVR procedure takes less than two hours.

“The main benefit is that patients feel better and live longer,” Dr. Leonardi said.

Studies show that TAVR reduces the mortality rate in patients by 20% in the first year after the procedure.

“Patients often want to know if there’s something we can do to make them feel better,” he added. “TAVR allows that to happen.”

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For more information on Lexington Medical Center’s complete cardiac care program, visit LexMed.com.