Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center is first hospital in Wisconsin to implant device to close holes in heart

Minimally invasive procedure can help reduce patient risks for strokes

December 13, 2016

Milwaukee, Wis. – Building on a legacy of heart health innovation, Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center became the first hospital in Wisconsin to implant in a patient a new device that helps close holes in the heart, in an effort to reduce strokes.

Tanvir Bajwa, MD, an interventional cardiologist and renowned expert on structural heart disease procedures, implanted the state’s first AMPLATZER™ PFO Occluder in mid-November, just weeks after the device received approval on October 28, 2016 from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The device could bring new treatment options for patients who have known holes in their hearts.

The St. Jude Medical device has been clinically proven to reduce the risk of a second stroke by closing a small hole in the heart called a patent foramen ovale (PFO). The PFO is a flap-like opening between the upper two chambers of the heart.  After birth the PFO should fuse to form a solid wall. However, in about 25 percent of the population, it remains open.

 “The recent FDA approval of the PFO Occluder brings new hope for patients ages 18 to 60 with cryptogenic stroke who may be seeking alternative treatment options for prevention,” said Dr. Bajwa, who also is one of the primary physicians involved in Aurora St. Luke’s growing transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) program. “Being the first hospital in the state to provide this new device to patients builds on our commitment to innovation and providing the best in patient care.”

 In most cases of stroke, a cause can be identified to include poorly controlled blood pressure, narrowed blood vessels from cholesterol buildup and scar tissues, or blood clots caused by abnormal heart rhythms.  In patients where the cause of stroke is not identifiable it is called a cryptogenic stroke. 

 In patients with cryptogenic stroke, the physician guides the device through a catheter (a small tube) to the patient’s heart from a vein in the patient’s leg during a minimally invasive procedure. The device seals the hole and remains permanently implanted in the heart.

With more than 15 years’ experience, Aurora St. Luke’s is one of the original centers across the globe involved in clinical trials for closure of a PFO for prevention of cryptogenic strokes.

The implantation of the new PFO occluder builds on the hospital’s leadership position in heart health. The team of experts has pioneered a number of firsts, including:

  • A leader in Ventricular Assistant Devices (VADs) implantation in patients with Advanced Heart Failure, having implanted more than 700 VADs since 1995.
  • The first atrial defibrillator implant in the U.S., the first catheter ablation in Wisconsin and the first Epicardial Catheter Ablation of atrial fibrillation in America.
  • The first device implant in Wisconsin to prevent strokes in patients with atrial fibrillation.
  • The first health care provider in Wisconsin to pioneer the hybrid ablation technique to treat patients with atrial fibrillation.
  • Among the first hospitals in Wisconsin to implant bio-absorbing stents to fight coronary artery disease.
  • One of the few hospitals in the nation to receive a three-star rating from the Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS).


About Aurora Health Care

Aurora Health Care is a not-for-profit health care provider in Wisconsin and northern Illinois and is a national leader in efforts to improve health care quality. Aurora offers services at sites in more than 90 communities throughout eastern Wisconsin and northern Illinois. Aurora is the area’s most comprehensive health care provider and the state's largest private employer. Aurora serves more than 1.2 million patients every year via a comprehensive network of facilities, services and providers, including 15 hospitals, more than 150 clinics, 70 pharmacies and 33,000 amazing Caregivers. As evidenced by more than 300 active clinical trials, Aurora is dedicated to delivering innovations to provide the best possible care today, and to define the best care for tomorrow. Get helpful health and wellness information via the Aurora MyHealth blog, our Facebook page, our Twitter account and our Pinterest account. 

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