The CHI St. Vincent Heart Institute recently became the first in Arkansas to successfully perform the Transcaval TAVR heart procedure. New TAVR, or Transcather Aortic Valve Replacement, procedures offer patients with aortic valve stenosis an alternative to open heart surgery, but some patients with suboptimal access routes were previously deemed ineligible.


This new Transcaval TAVR heart procedure, performed first by CHI St. Vincent Interventional Cardiologist Dr. Aravind Rao and Cardiovascular Surgeon Dr. Thomas Rayburn, allows heart surgeons to safely bypass problematic arterial regions and make this minimally invasive alternative available to more patients.


“In this patient, the femoral access route used for a normal TAVR procedure was heavily calcified and she had no other option for a valve replacement,” said Dr. Rao. “She worked with our team for six-months, had full faith in the Heart Institute and didn’t want to go anywhere else. It’s now been months since the surgery and she’s doing great.”


Typical TAVR procedures take one-to-two hours to complete and require an average of a one night stay in the hospital. In contrast, open-heart surgery requires between two-to-four hours in surgery, an average of five-to-seven days in the hospital and six-to-eight weeks of recovery. The CHI St. Vincent Heart Institute is one of three institutions across the 142 hospital and 21 state CommonSpirit Health system recognized as a center of excellence for TAVR procedures.


“This marks an incredible step forward for Arkansans seeking the very best in heart care,” said CHI St. Vincent Heart Institute President Marcia Atkinson. “Procedures like the Transcaval TAVR are less invasive than open heart surgery and offer dramatically reduced recovery times for patients. At this point, our team of expert heart specialists can offer about any advanced heart surgery technique being offered anywhere in the country.”


Symptoms of aortic valve disease may include shortness of breath, difficulty when exercising, swollen ankles or feet, rapid or irregular heartbeat and palpitations, an uncomfortable awareness of one’s heart beating rapidly or irregularly, angina or fatigue. The CHI St. Vincent Heart Institute advises anyone experiencing one or more of these symptoms to speak with their primary care physician or heart specialist.



Did you know women may have all, none or just a few of the typical heart attack symptoms? While some pain, pressure or discomfort in the chest is still a common symptom in women, many have heart attack symptoms without chest pain.