Vinod H. ThouraniMD
Dr. Thourani is a highly productive cardiothoracic surgeon-researcher whose primary focus is developing and refining innovative strategies and devices in the field of structural heart disease and valve surgery. His clinical and research work in transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) and minimally invasive valvular surgery for high-risk patients with severe aortic stenosis has been particularly significant. Using TAVR, teams of interventional cardiologists and cardiothoracic surgeons place the Edwards SAPIEN valve inside the heart without stopping it or opening the chest. Patients can often recover more quickly from this minimally invasive approach.
Dr. Thourani was a co-principal investigator of the Emory-based site of the multi-center PARTNER I trial that measured TAVR against traditional open heart surgery, the initial results of which were so promising that the FDA approved the SAPIEN valve used in TAVR in November 2011 for the treatment of patients with aortic stenosis considered too frail for traditional surgery. In 2012, the valve was approved for use in a wider group of high risk patients. Dr. Thourani is also a national co-PI of the SAPIEN 3 cohort of the PARTNER II, which is evaluating the use of a smaller device as well as testing TAVR in patients who pose a moderate surgical risk.
At the 2013 Annual Meeting of the American College of Cardiology (ACC), Dr. Thourani presented PARTNER I's three-year safety and outcomes data, which showed that the SAPIEN valves appeared to be durable and not to have suffered structural deterioration. Mortality rates between patients who had received TAVR and those who had open-heart surgery were nearly identical, and TAVR patients had no increased risk of stroke. Dr. Thourani noted that blood leakage around the SAPIEN valve may be responsible for the similar mortality level, as those patients who had none or trace valvular leak had an extraordinarily low mortality compared to traditional surgery. He stated that Edwards was attempting to address the problem with newer valves in its developmental pipeline that include a skirt or cuff around the valve designed to prevent leakage. PARTNER I's final results were reported at ACC's 2015 meeting, and they remained similar.