& Heart Surgery
Home of the World-Renowned Texas Heart® Institute
A Letter From the Chief of Our Cardiovascular Service Line
It is with great enthusiasm that we bring to you this brochure summarizing what we do very well at the Texas Heart® Institute at Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center: take care of very sick patients.
After the implementation of a state-of-the-art, multidisciplinary, protocolized approach to the management of extremely complex end-stage heart failure patients, Dr. Alexis Shafii and Dr. Andrew Civitello, surgical and medical directors of the Heart Transplant Program at Baylor St. Luke’s, have performed successful heart transplants in over 50 patients, with a 1-year survival rate of 96%.
We continue to be at the forefront of cardiac surgery. Dr. Kenneth Liao, chief of cardiothoracic transplantation and mechanical circulatory support at Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center, is the only surgeon in Houston, TX, currently using the da Vinci Robotic Surgical System for cardiovascular procedures.
You will find in the brochure a detailed description of the multidisciplinary centers of excellence that we have created to serve our patients with complex valvular, pericardial, and amyloid heart disease.
In addition to our clinical excellence, and true to its mission, Texas Heart® Institute continues its tradition as a pioneer in cardiovascular research and education. It would be impossible for us to continue to lead in the fields of cardiology and cardiac surgery if we did not have the researchers and scientists innovating every day in the areas of stem cell therapies, devices, and management of arrhythmias. We are equally proud of our cardiology and CV surgery fellows in training. We recruit them from the finest institutions in the United States. They come here because they are attracted to the idea of being exposed to the highest possible acuity of cardiovascular care, delivered in a compassionate way by the leaders in the field.
Texas Heart® Institute at Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center
Robotic-Assisted Cardiac Surgery Performed
Led by Kenneth K. Liao, MD, PhD, the team at Texas Heart Institute at Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center is focused on using state-of-the-art robotic technology to perform minimally invasive mitral valve repair and coronary artery bypass grafting surgery. The advanced robotic technology uses 3D high-definition scope and robot-controlled fine instruments inside the chest, which allows the surgeon to perform gentle and complex surgical maneuvers inside the heart. The advantages of robotic cardiac surgery include very small incisions through rib space (1-2 inches), less blood loss, lower risk of stroke and wound infection, and quicker recovery.
Currently, Dr. Liao is among a handful of highly experienced robotic cardiac surgeons in the U.S. and the only cardiac surgeon in Greater Houston using the da Vinci Robotic Surgical System to treat valve and coronary disease. His robotic cardiac surgery program at Texas Heart Institute at Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center is among the top 10 programs in the U.S. Since his arrival at Texas Heart Institute at Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center in 2019, he has performed over 150 robotic heart surgeries, making it the fastest growing program in the country.
Cardiology in the Time of COVID-19
Pericardial Disease Center of Excellence
Physicians at Baylor St. Luke’s recently treated a patient with a severe case of pericarditis and pleuritis. Brett Sweeny had dealt with pericardial constriction for years, taking anti-inflammatories and steroids, with no change in his symptoms. The pleura around his right lung had also been affected.
To treat Mr. Sweeny’s condition, Dr. Gabriel Loor, co-chief of adult cardiac surgery at Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center and a specialist in the surgical treatment of constrictive pericarditis, partnered with Dr. Juan Carlos Plana, imager and chief of the cardiovascular service line, and Dr. Phil Carrott, thoracic surgeon. After a thorough assessment involving echocardiography, MRI, and cardiac catheterization, Mr. Sweeny underwent a pericardiectomy and right-lung decortication. He had no perioperative morbidity and made an excellent recovery. These results were the product of precision imaging, surgical partnership, and consideration of all potential comorbidities to make the procedure as safe as possible for the patient.
1st Hospital in Texas Medical Center To Offer the Convergent Procedure
The procedures can be done the same day or in two stages (6-8 weeks apart). In a recent study, normal sinus rhythm was restored in 87% of patients, 43% were off their AFib medications three months after the procedure, and 76% were no longer having symptoms at the 6-month mark.
New Implantable Device Treats Heart Failure
HeartCare Study Tests Genetic Risk of Cardiovascular Disease
You can’t escape your genetics, but with a little help, you can be proactive and prevent disease later in life. That is why researchers at Baylor College of Medicine’s Human Genome Sequencing Center are working with Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center cardiologists to determine patients’ genetic risk factors for cardiovascular disease. As part of the HeartCare study, participants underwent genetic testing to identify genes that influence the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Cardiac Amyloidosis Program Established at Heart Failure Clinic
Dr. Ajith Nair, advanced heart failure specialist and assistant professor of medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, has established a Cardiac Amyloidosis Program focused on transthyretin amyloidosis within the Heart Failure Clinic. Cardiac amyloidosis, which commonly affects the heart, can be classified as AL or TTR (transthyretin). AL amyloidosis is caused by a plasma cell dyscrasia.
FDA Granted Breakthrough Device Designation for Thoraflex Hybrid Stented Device for Complex Aortic Arch Repair
“This breakthrough designation from the FDA will allow U.S. physicians to treat patients who may be at great risk of rupture with a device that brings the primary benefit of requiring a single-stage procedure instead of the conventional treatment involving two procedures, thus lowering the risk of patient mortality and potentially reducing overall operating time and hospital costs,” said Coselli.
He has extensive experience in complex aortic repair in emergent patients as well as patients with connective tissue disorders, such as Marfan and Loeys-Dietz syndromes. He and his team have performed more than 10,000 repairs of the aorta and over 3,600 repairs of thoracoabdominal aortic aneurysms, making Dr. Coselli the world’s most experienced aortic surgeon.
New Thoracic Surgery Integrated Residency Program Led by Joseph Coselli, Chief of Adult Cardiac Surgery
How a Change of Heart Improved Jerry DeHaven’s Life
“This transplant has really been the easiest transplant ever in the history of mankind…except for the scars on my chest, I can’t tell I have a problem,” said Jerry, now 73 and living with his wife in the Memorial area. “Get over the fear of a transplant. If they are telling you that you have a problem and you need a new heart, don’t argue with them. Just play along, and it ends up being almost a non-event. Yeah, you have to go back to the med center once a month for a blood test, and every now and then, you have to have a heart biopsy. Big deal. It’s not that complicated, and once you get out of the hospital and start to walk and then run, you have it made.”
Clinical Research Update: Stem Cell Treatment for Heart Failure in Cancer Survivors
Heart failure induced by cancer treatments is often irreversible and disproportionately affects women and young adults. Texas Heart Institute’s Medical Director, Dr. Emerson Perin, and colleagues across the U.S. evaluated a new treatment approach using allogeneic, bone-marrow-derived stem cell treatment, which is safe and might improve heart function. The research lays the groundwork for further testing in clinical trials. The SENECA Trial was a Phase 1, first in-human study of allogeneic mesenchymal stromal cells (allo-MSCs) in patients with anthracycline-induced cardiomyopathy (AIC). Results were presented at the annual Heart Failure Society of America meeting held virtually this year and appeared in JACC CardioOncology.
New Clinical Trial at the Texas Heart Institute Explores Heart Failure Treatment After Myocardial Infarction
Complex Valvular Heart Disease Clinic
From Possible Liver Transplant to Valve Surgery and an Active Life
Our Heart Transplant Program Offers Renewed Hope to Patients With End-Stage Heart Disease
The Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center Heart Transplant Program is fully accredited by the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).
Multicenter Clinical Trial of the Evaheart LVAD
Alexis Shafii, MD, and colleagues are involved in the multicenter clinical trial of the Evaheart LVAD as a bridge to heart transplant as well as destination therapy. The Evaheart LVAD is equipped with the state-of-the-art LVAD technology; it has the potential to be the best performing LVAD developed thus far. In collaboration with Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Heart Institute, Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center is one of ten centers chosen to participate in this trial.
Increasing Acceptance of Hearts Donated After Cardiac Death
The Organ Care System (OCS) is a novel technology that keeps donor hearts beating and lungs breathing prior to transplantation. It is only being studied and used in a few leading heart and lung transplant centers in the world. We are very proud to be the leaders in advancing this technology in both heart and lung transplantation.