We’ve reached a milestone, thanks to you!


This post marks a milestone of sorts.

It’s #1,000 in a long line of posts we’ve shared with you over the last year and a half since we launched this blog.

We’ve enjoyed writing about new innovations and breakthroughs that Barnes-Jewish Hospital has been a part of, such as the Kling Center for Proton Therapy, the transcatheter aortic valve implantation, and the new stroke robot, Maestro.

We’ve also been able to bring to you many patient stories, such as the humor of brain tumor patient George Malich, our first heart/kidney transplant patient Jonathan Sadowski, and heart transplant patient Megan Moss.

But the most amazing thing about what this blog has afforded Barnes-Jewish Hospital, it’s team members, patients and community is a voice. We’ve been granted a unique way to communicate with you, and you’ve been great about sounding off to us. These are conversations we enjoy, and frankly, can’t get enough of.

So as we move forward into our next 1,000 posts, we’d like to say thanks for being a part of this conversation. Thanks for telling us what you think. And thanks, in advance, for continuing to provide us with feedback that will help us give you the information you’re looking for.

We’re listening. And we can’t wait to hear from you.


Kathy, Jason & Co.

FDA Panel Recommends New Heart Procedure


Earlier this week, a panel of cardiologists recommended to the FDA that an alternative to open heart surgery for valve replacement be approved. It’s called transcatheter aortic valve implantation or TAVI.

According to the Associated Press:

The Food and Drug Administration’s advisory panel voted 9 to 0, with one abstention, that the benefits of the Sapien aortic heart valve outweigh its risks for patients who can’t undergo traditional valve replacement surgery, according to an agency spokeswoman.

On a separate question, the panel voted 7-3 that the valve was reasonably safe.

The endorsement came despite concerns about increased stroke and heart complications among patients. The vote is only a recommendation to the FDA, which will make a final approval decision in coming months.

Typically, the FDA follows the advice of these panels, so it is expected by many that the procedure will be approved in the next few months.

At Barnes-Jewish and Washington University, physicians in our heart and vascular center have a lot of experience with the procedure. They’re one of only 23 centers in the country who were in trials for it, have enrolled over 100 patients and have talked about those results.

In the procedure to replace an aortic valve, instead of opening a patient’s chest, physicians thread a catheter, mounted with a compressed replacement valve on a tiny balloon, through an incision in a vein in the groin. Once in position, a stent-like valve is inflated in the aorta and the balloon and catheter are withdrawn. It’s quite an alternative approach to open heart surgery.

Now while the FDA approval may happen, it’s important to note the FDA panel decision only applies to those patients who are not good surgical candidates. According to our Dr. Alan Zajarias (who actually trained with the procedure’s inventor in France before coming back to perform it here in the U.S.):

“We are hoping within the next couple of months those who are considered high risk surgical candidates but can still have surgery that the FDA will give a decision if they can be candidates as well,” he says. “Surgery is still the treatment of choice for those who are surgical candidates.”

For more information, click here for more info.

-Jason Merrill

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