Albany Medical Center Only in Region to Perform Catheter-based Procedure for Pediatric Pulmonary Valve Replacement

The Edwards SAPIEN 3 Transcatheter Pulmonary Valve System (TPVS) with the Alterra Adaptive Pre-stent

A new pulmonary valve procedure, eliminating the need for children to undergo open heart surgery, is now being performed at Albany Medical Center. It is the only hospital in the Capital Region to offer this procedure for critical congenital heart defects.

The Edwards SAPIEN 3 Transcatheter Pulmonary Valve System (TPVS) with the Alterra Adaptive Pre-stent, which was approved by the FDA in August 2020, consists of a catheter-based stent (Alterra), an artificial heart valve (SAPIEN 3), and the tools used to implant the stent and valve without having to perform open heart surgery. The Alterra device allows a transcatheter to fit inside it. Patients who have received this procedure have shown quicker recovery periods.

Jess Randall, MD, a pediatric interventional cardiologist at the Bernard & Millie Duker Children’s Hospital, performed the first procedure in March of 2023 on then-14-year-old Winston Smith of Wynantskill. Winston was born with Tetralogy of Fallot, a rare birth defect in which the baby’s heart does not form correctly and affects normal blood flow to the heart. The patient had surgery after birth to fix the defect. But as the patient has grown into a teenager, Dr. Randall said he met the criteria to have his pulmonary valve replaced.

“The patient’s heart is like a water balloon - blood is leaking back into the heart and causing it to stretch and expand over time,” said Dr. Randall. “The patient is a relatively active teenager, but unless we fix his pulmonary valve and stop the heart from expanding, as he gets older, he’ll start getting tired and not be able to participate in sports as much.”

High-Quality Care, Close to Home

According to Dr. Randall, the next closest hospital to offer the Alterra device procedure is Boston or New York City.

It’s important we take treatments that are typically only offered in big centers, and bring them here, locally,” said Dr. Randall. “It allows families to be close to home and family and eliminates the burden of a patient traveling after the procedure or for follow up appointments.”

“We were relieved to hear he didn’t have to go through open heart surgery thanks to this new procedure,” said Winston’s mother Aya Smith. “Dr. Randall showed us a model and videos to explain how the device worked, so that helped put us at ease. Plus, we were thankful that we could have this procedure done close to home!”

Dr. Randall says the catheter-based procedure offers a much quicker and easier recovery time for the patient.

“The patient went home 48 hours later, and we didn’t have to cut open his chest,” said Dr. Randall. “He’s now back to playing soccer. I think that’s a big win.”

Dr. Randall says the device could last for nearly 15 years before needing to be replaced. To date, three procedures have been performed at Albany Medical Center.