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Press Release

Northwestern Medicine’s Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute Celebrates Transcatheter Valve Program

Northwestern Medicine
Posted on: 29 Aug 16

Northwestern Medicine’s Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute is celebrating the success of its transcatheter valve program, a pioneering technology that replaces or repairs leaky heart valves without open-heart surgery. On August 25, 2016, more than 50 former transcatheter valve replacement patients and their family members celebrated the life-saving procedure that has extended both their lives and their ability to enjoy them.

The Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute hit the milestone of being the first hospital in Illinois to perform the 500th TAVR, or transcatheter aortic valve replacement, since the program’s inception in 2008. Charles J. Davidson, MD, performed the 500th procedure on July 23, 2016.

Dr. Davidson, chief of clinical cardiology at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, was the pioneer of TAVR at Northwestern and also performed the health system’s first TAVR.

“TAVR and our other transcatheter valve procedures offer patients — most who have no other option — a second chance at life,” said Dr. Davidson, who is also a professor of medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “We have been privileged to be a leader in one of one of the greatest innovations in the history of cardiovascular care and treatment. Personally, it has been a joy and honor to watch these significantly ill patients thrive after their procedures.”

Traditional heart valve repair or replacement requires open-heart surgery, where surgeons make an incision down the center of a patient’s sternum to directly reach the heart. Patients are placed on a heart-lung bypass machine during surgery, and recovery time typically involves several days in the hospital.

While open-heart surgery is still the best option for many patients, Northwestern Medicine physicians have been at the forefront nationally of research into replacing valves through a transcatheter approach. With that, physicians insert a catheter, or tube, into the patients’ femoral artery in the groin or between the patient’s ribs. The valve, which is mounted on a stent, is guided with the help of x-ray imaging across the diseased valve. A balloon is inflated and the stent with the new valve attached is implanted, replacing the existing valve. In-hospital recovery time is typically around 2-3 days.

Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute physicians have utilized transcatheter aortic, mitral and tricuspid valve replacement and repair technologies in extreme risk, high-risk, moderate-risk and low-risk patients through a series of clinical trials. This work with transcatheter valve therapies has made Northwestern Memorial Hospital a national destination for heart care. U.S. News & World Report recently ranked Northwestern Memorial’s cardiology and heart surgery program sixth in the country. The program is consistently ranked best in Chicago, Illinois and the surrounding states.

“Our transcatheter program represents the best of the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute — positive clinical outcomes for our patients combined with research that is advancing the field of cardiovascular care,” said Patrick M. McCarthy, MD, executive director of the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute and chief of the division of cardiac surgery at Northwestern. “We are pleased to celebrate this milestone and excited to continue our work on advancing transcatheter research through our clinical trials unit.”

To learn more about TAVR or other transcatheter valve options at Northwestern Medicine, visit or call (312) NM-HEART.

For more information about Northwestern Medicine, visit

Kara Spak
(312) 926-0755

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Editor's Details

Mike Wood

Last updated on: 29/08/2016

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