LHSC first in North America to implant new generation cardiac device


For Immediate Release

July 17, 2014


LONDON, Ont. – Almost 15 years after James Poulias underwent successful double bypass cardiac surgery at London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC), he returned on May 12 to LHSC to receive North America’s first ACURATE TA™ transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI).

“My surgeon told me 15 years ago that one day I may require another surgery because of a separate problem with one of my heart valves,” says 80 year old James Poulias, from Tecumseh Ontario. Earlier this year, Poulias began feeling severe fatigue, shortness of breath and a little pressure in his chest area. He could no longer mow the lawn without sitting down and had to stop playing golf, his favourite pastime. “Since my surgery, I already feel better but I look forward to longer walks with my wife and playing golf with my seniors club.”

When presented with Poulias’ case, LHSC cardiac physicians, Drs. Bob Kiaii, Michael Chu, Pantelis Diamantouros, and Patrick Teefy, agreed TAVI would be the best treatment option. The minimally invasive surgery would treat the critically narrowed heart valve to improve blood flow.

A majority of patients who receive TAVI are 80 years of age or older, thus, open heart surgery is often not an option available to them given the risk of complications. However, further assessment revealed that currently available TAVI devices were not suitable due to Poulias’ anatomy, meaning the risk of serious leakage around an implanted valve was too high to perform the procedure.

Fortunately, LHSC’s cardiac team had very recently received training in Germany for the implantation of the ACURATE TA Aortic Bioprosthesis, a newer generation TAVI device that allows safer treatment of higher risk patients with fewer complications.

This new generation TAVI device proved to be an excellent solution for Poulias. “This device promises to reduce or eliminate significant leakage from around the implanted valve, which roughly 10 to 20 per cent of all previous generation TAVI patients experience, ranging from mild to severe,” says Dr. Kiaii. “In severe cases the risk of mortality is similar to not having the procedure at all.”

On May 12, the heart team, as well as a multidisciplinary team including anaesthesiologists, nurses, and clinical perfusionists, performed three TAVI implants using the new device, including Poulias’. “Our results have been excellent with our first cases,” adds Dr. Chu. “In fact, we completed five more cases in July, again with excellent results. At a minimum, we feel that at least 20 per cent of all TAVI patients could benefit from the new device. We can now expand TAVI treatment to higher risk patients who were otherwise deemed untreatable.”

The device, at present, is only available at LHSC in North America, has a short hour glass shape that self-seats and self-seals tightly within the old aortic valve while intuitively ensuring correct anatomic positioning.

Currently, special approval from Health Canada is required prior to proceeding with each individual patient. ACURATE TA was developed and is manufactured by Symetis SA in Switzerland.

“My children and grandchildren have told me they notice the colour has returned to my face,” says a jovial Poulias. “I already feel a significant improvement in my quality of life.”


About London Health Sciences Centre
London Health Sciences Centre has been at the forefront of medicine in Canada for 139 years and offers the broadest range of specialized clinical services in Ontario. Building on the traditions of its founding hospitals to provide compassionate care in an academic teaching setting, London Health Sciences Centre is home to Children’s Hospital, University Hospital, Victoria Hospital, the Kidney Care Centre, two family medical centres, and two research institutes – Children’s Health Research Institute and Lawson Health Research Institute. As a leader in medical discovery and health research, London Health Sciences Centre has a history of over 65 international and national firsts and attracts top clinicians and researchers from around the world. As a regional referral centre, London Health Sciences Centre cares for the most medically complex patients including critically injured adults and children in southwestern Ontario and beyond. The hospital’s nearly 15,000 staff, physicians, students and volunteers provide care for more than one million patient visits a year. For more information visit www.lhsc.on.ca


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