The Valve Disorders Center at Baylor Scott & White Heart and Vascular Hospital – Fort Worth offers streamlined access to experts in valve disease for physicians and their patients. By bringing together a dedicated team from multiple specialties, including cardiothoracic surgeons on the medical staff of Baylor Scott & White All Saints Medical Center – Fort Worth, patients with valve disorders get a comprehensive evaluation and access to innovative treatments in one place.
“The true multidisciplinary nature team helps us offer the most appropriate intervention for the patient,” says Anita Krueger, MD, vice chief of cardiovascular and thoracic surgery for Baylor Scott & White– Fort Worth . “Whether its catheterization, surgery or medical management, we look at the least invasive approach that will be effective for them.”
Specialists meet weekly to discuss cases with a team that includes interventional cardiologists, general cardiologists, cardiothoracic surgeons, and vascular surgeons on the medical staff, along with nursing, administrators, imaging staff, cath lab staff and more. If a patient has other medical conditions, they also ask additional specialists outside of cardiovascular care to participate.
“We want to consider the whole patient, not just what’s going on with the heart,” Dr. Krueger says . “Our approach is very collaborative, and every case gets full consideration to determine how we can help their quality of life.”
Advanced care for aortic and mitral valve disorders
The valve center team offers a range of treatment options for both aortic and mitral disease. One area of focus is transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR). Since the TAVR program began on the Fort Worth campus in October 2018, the team has performed 400 TAVR procedures.
In 2019, the candidate criteria for TAVR expanded to include patients with low surgical risk. Currently, the team considers patients who have severe aortic stenosis with any surgical risk to determine if they qualify. If TAVR is not the right option, patients have access to a surgical team with experience in aortic valve surgery.
“TAVR continues to grow in popularity and is becoming more common,” Dr. Krueger says . “We’re able to offer patients a program in Tarrant County that has already shown success in this procedure.”
The center also provides evaluation and care for any patient with severe mitral valve disease. Treatment options for these disorders include transcatheter therapy for severe mitral regurgitation, transcatheter mitral valve replacement (TMVR), and minimally invasive surgical repair and replacement.
Additionally, patients benefit from a center that’s part of a large, collaborative system like Baylor Scott & White Health. Physicians on the medical staff participate in system task forces for TAVR and mitral valve to share best practices. The team is also involved in ongoing clinical trials in the transcatheter space, giving patients access to clinical trials for new devices.
Improved patient experience and convenience
Beyond providing a range of advanced care options, the multidisciplinary approach for treating patients with valve disease helps improve the patient experience. For many patients, factors like age and mobility limitations make driving back and forth to multiple appointments and tests challenging. Having a dedicated valve center in Tarrant County helps make accessing care more convenient for them.
“When it’s difficult for patients to travel, that adds stress to them and their family,” Dr. Krueger says. “We try to minimize visits by allowing them to see their doctors and get testing in one day.”
The multidisciplinary team also extends this local, convenient care farther west—into West Texas and the Texas Panhandle. With outreach clinics in Amarillo, Lubbock, Odessa and Weatherford, patients can have their procedure in Fort Worth but receive pre- and post-op care closer to home.
Early management of valve disease
The center’s team emphasizes the importance of specialized care early in the progression of valve disease. Proactive evaluation by a team of specialists helps these patients get comprehensive care and access to intervention when they need it.
Even if a patient doesn’t yet meet the criteria for a procedure, as determined by the multidisciplinary team reviewing each individual patient’s situation, the evaluation is beneficial. Specialists will continue to collaborate with the patient’s referring physician to monitor their condition moving forward.
“We want to see people before the disease is severe and guide management until they need additional treatment,” Dr. Krueger says . “Err on the side of referral. We’re here to help.”