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Cardiologist Dr. David Wood’s revolutionary procedure further cements Providence as a leader in heart & lung care, research and teaching.

“It’s going to change, we think, not just North American, but global practice,” says St. Paul’s Hospital cardiologist Dr. David Wood, prior to presenting a revolutionary heart valve surgery to thousands of doctors at the annual Transcatheter Cardiovascular Therapeutics conference in October 2017.

The 3M transcatheter aortic valve replacement procedure for treating aortic heart valve disease reduces recovery time from months to hours. The aortic valve is the most important of four heart valves and leads from the heart to the body, supplying blood to the head, lungs and muscles.

Instead of opening up a patient’s chest and cutting into the heart, doctors insert a new valve by way of a catheter. The minimally invasive technique takes about 45-minutes and the patient remains awake.

“You had no breathing tube, no catheter in your bladder. You could return to work the next day. You could be driving the next day. These are things that I think the average person can’t believe are feasible in 2017,” says Dr. Wood.

Dr. Wood led a study on the technique involving 411 patients who underwent the operation across North America. Many are up and walking within hours after the surgery, and 80% of the patients, whose median age is 84, went home the next day.

The innovative procedure builds on the groundbreaking TAVI procedure (transcatheter aortic valve implantation) pioneered by Dr. John Webb, Dr. Wood’s colleague, in 2005.

Dr. Webb, director of interventional cardiology and McLeod Family Professor in Valvular Heart Disease Intervention at St. Paul’s, was the first in North America to perform a transcatheter aortic-valve implantation (TAVI), which involves inserting a new valve into the heart through an incision in an artery in the leg. He is recognized internationally as a leader in these procedures, having performed more of them than anyone in the world and taught these techniques to health care professionals in more than 25 countries to date.

Dr. Webb and St. Paul’s continue to develop new breakthroughs in these procedures through the newly created Centre for Heart Valve Innovation.