Several months ago, Helen Garrison was suffering from dizzy spells she initially attributed to side effects from a new medication. Diagnostic tests later revealed she had an ascending aortic aneurysm and a leaky aortic valve. 

An aortic aneurysm is an abnormal bulge that forms in the wall of the heart’s most important blood vessel, the aorta. This bulge can cause a disruption in blood flow and lead to leaky valves and serious complications if not treated properly, most frequently via surgery.

Helen was later referred to CTVS board-certified cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Jeffrey McNeil to explore surgical options for treatment. 

He suggested that she was an ideal candidate for aortic aneurysm and valve surgery with a new device to repair her valve called the HAART device.

Dr. McNeil successfully repaired Helen’s valve with this revolutionary device in July, and she has been feeling great ever since.

“No dizzy spells, and I don’t have that feeling of a heavy chest,” says Garrison. “I’m excited to get back to gardening and my everyday life!”

Dr. McNeil is the first surgeon in Central Texas to have performed an aortic valve repair with the HAART device. The surgeons at CTVS are well-known pioneers in cardiothoracic and vascular surgical care, often adopting cutting-edge technologies and trying out new treatments ahead of any other practice in Central Texas.

What is the HAART device?

The HAART device was developed and is manufactured by a local Austin company, BioStable Science & Engineering. It’s designed to provide surgeons with more opportunities to offer aortic valve repair to a greater number of patients.

“Essentially if there is an issue with valves, we want to repair rather than replace,” says Dr. McNeil.  “Options for aortic valve repair were limited, until now. This device allows for repair of the valve rather than having to perform a valve replacement.”

In many cases, tiny parts of the aortic valve known as leaflets are removed and replaced to correct a leak. The HAART device allows the surgeon to preserve the patient’s existing leaflets if they are still healthy.

It supports the leaflets and holds them tightly together and securely in place to prevent any future disruption in blood flow or leakage.

Dr. McNeil likens the HAART device to “the frame of a house, providing the frame or structure to the aortic valve.”

The benefits of using the HAART device to repair aortic valves rather than replacing them include:

  • No need for lifelong blood thinners (anticoagulation medication) as with mechanical replacement valves.
  • Better durability than a tissue valve replacement, which typically only lasts 10 to 15 years.

On being the first patient in Austin to be treated with the HAART device, Garrison says “I’m honored that Dr. McNeil offered this option to me. If I can be an encouragement to someone else to have this procedure, I’d love that!”

To find out more about aortic valve surgery or any other cardiothoracic condition, please visit ctvstexas.com or call us at (512) 459-8753 to schedule an appointment with one of our board-certified specialists.

Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter and check our blog for regular updates.