The Future of Heart Repairs Were Created Here in Tucson

Dr. Waggoner


The future is here at the Tucson Medical Center (TMC) Structural Heart and Research Program in Tucson. Dr. Thomas E. Waggoner, who has more initials after his name than the Italian alphabet, presented his cutting edge programs at TMC. The April talk by Dr. Waggoner was sponsored by Home Instead and the SaddleBrooke Wellness Integrated Network (WIN).

The TMC program focuses on minimally invasive heart surgery that addresses atrial fibrillation or valve issues. For these problems doctors used to do open heart surgery. Today Dr. Waggoner’s team is using catheter-based heart valve replacement. Nearly every valve in the heart can be replaced using a catheter-based approach. What does this mean for the patient? Doctors can complete the surgery within one to two hours and the patient can be home the same day or the next. Today, a leaky aortic valve can be replaced in 45 minutes. A full tricuspid valve catheter-based replacement was approved in the beginning of this year.

The goal of the TMC research programs is to bring new device technology to new and broader populations.  Students, Fellows, Research Coordinators are all focused on keeping the patient first.

Today TMC is involved in 35 clinical trials at the hospital and 30 clinical trials in their outpatient locations. Building a research program such as this involves support from the hospital and building relationships with vendors. By building this research program they also attract those practitioners who want to be on the cutting edge of heart repair.

Any vendor trying to get a valve device to trial may spend eight to ten years and $450M. The process at the clinic involves ordering a CAT scan of the heart and creating a 3-D model of that patient’s heart. The surgery team can practice the surgery on a duplicate of your heart, minimizing any surprises that may be found in your unique situation.

In 2016, they inserted their first Watchman at TMC. The modern Watchman FLX Pro is installed with a hemocoat that promotes healing and reduces clotting. With this device installed nearly 90% of patients can be off blood thinners in 6 weeks. There is less platelet binding and less inflammation. Using new catheters designed to help deliver devices to the heart, you can steer the catheter into the heart and the chambers of the heart.

The TMC Structural Heart Program is the top 1% of clinics nationwide with 306 structural heart investigational device implants. The clinic has completed four First in Human (FIH) cases. They have 45 programs that train Fellows. They develop guidelines for other clinics. Patients are now heading to Tucson for premier heart care.

Link to TMC Structural Heart Program

Dr. Waggoner

Dr. Waggoner

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