What is Structural Heart & Valve Disease

The Structural Heart and Valve Center at Princeton Baptist delivers a highly-personalized, innovative approach to treating heart valve disease and structural heart conditions.

The Valves of the Heart – The heart has four valves that make blood flow in a set direction. With every heartbeat, the valves open and close once. If the valves don’t open and close correctly, it can disrupt blood flow to your heart. Conditions where valves don’t open correctly are called stenosis. Conditions where valves don’t close correctly are called regurgitation – valves that don’t close properly can leak. The four valves in the heart are: Aortic Valve, Mitral Valve, Pulmonary Valve, and the Tricuspid Valve.

The Structure of the Heart – ‘Structural heart disease’ covers a large variety of heart conditions that aren’t generally related to coronary disease and refers to both valvular heart disease and any defect within the heart. Many defects can be repaired percutaneously via catheter, instead of through open-heart surgery.

Structural heart and valve disease can be scary. But cutting-edge treatment options at Princeton Baptist mean a healthier heart is within reach. From a better quality of life and reduced symptoms, to a potentially longer life, and less work for your heart muscle – you have everything to gain.

An Alternative to Open Heart Surgery

An Alternative to Open Heart Surgery

Your Team

Structural heart and valve decision-making is often highly complex requiring close collaboration between our imaging specialists, structural interventionalists and cardiac surgeons – also known as a ‘heart team’ approach.

Team members meet with patients during clinic visits to develop a patient-centered, comprehensive plan, including the latest treatment approaches. In addition to the heart team, patients receive ongoing education and access to a nurse before, during and after procedures.

A highly trained, team of specialists from multiple heart and vascular specialties at Princeton, Cardiovascular Associates of the Southeast (CVA) and Cardiology P.C. include cardiothoracic surgeons, interventional cardiologists, and specialists in cardiac imaging. The clinic’s multidisciplinary treatment team includes:

  • Mustafa Ahmed, M.D.
  • Tom Cawthon, M.D.
  • Clifton Lewis, M.D.
  • Lee Roberson, M.D.
  • Stephen Bakir, M.D.
  • Chris Huff, M.D.
  • Luiz Pinheiro, M.D.


A team of clinicians provides a range of services, including minimally invasive procedures, and:

  • Minimally invasive non-sternotomy cardiac surgery
  • Minimally invasive right thoracotomy aortic valve replacement
  • Routine sternal operations including bypass surgery and valve replacement and repair
  • Robotic mitral valve and tricuspid valve repairs
  • Cardiac surgery for Jehovah's Witnesses
  • Transcatheter Valve Replacement – TAVR and other Balloon Valvuloplasty
  • Transcatheter Mitral Valve Repair
  • Percutaneous para-valvular leak repair
  • Transcatheter repair of Atrial Septal Defects / Patent Foramen Ovale / Ventricular Septal Defects /Patent Ductus Arteriosus / Intracardiac Shunts
  • Other Structural Heart Procedures
  • Percutaneous repair of – LV rupture/aneurysm / Aortic Coarctation / Aortic Pseudoaneurysm / Pulmonary Vein Stenosis
  • Left Atrial Appendage occlusion
  • Myocardial and intracardiac mass biopsy
  • Alcohol Septal Ablation for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
  • Percutaneous treatment of massive and submassive pulmonary embolism
  • Catheterization for complex cardiac hemodynamic assessment
  • Intracardiac echocardiography (ICE)
  • Real time 3D- transthoracic (TTE) and transesophageal echocardiography (TEE)
  • Heart catheterization, angioplasty and stenting for coronary artery disease
  • Percutaneous treatment of coronary artery fistulas

What does minimally invasive really mean?

Minimally-invasive Heart Surgery

Minimally invasive means our team can replace your aortic valve or even fix your mitral valve through a small hole. In the case of a tight aortic valve (aortic stenosis), which traditionally affects tens of thousands of patients, many of whom have traditionally been ineligible for surgery due to age or a health condition that makes surgery too high-risk. The TAVR procedure allows us to replace the aortic valve with a bioprosthetic valve (cow valve) through a small tube (catheter) in the patient’s groin, or through a small incision in the chest wall–either of which are performed without opening the chest wall as would traditionally be done in open-heart surgery. The procedure has been proven to save lives, dramatically improve outcomes, and reduce recovery time from several months, to just a few weeks – with an average hospital stay of two to four days.

Our team takes a similar approach to many other conditions, including mitral valve regurgitation (which may benefit from the Mitraclip procedure), or patients who have atrial fibrillation and aren’t great candidates for blood thinners, but may benefit from left atrial appendage closure. Other conditions treated include atrial and ventricular septal defects, PFO’s, pulmonary embolism, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, pericardial effusions, perivalvular leaks, shunts, fistulas and other congenital heart diseases.

Patient Stories

KATHLEEN GLOVER, MitraClip patient, December 2015
"Everything was wonderful, including all the doctors, nurses and the structural heart and valve team. If you had seen me before surgery, and then after, you would not have known me. I feel so much better, and the experience was wonderful."

JOHN NORRIS, Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) patient, October 2015
"I have done better after this surgery than any other surgery. If you have to have it done, this is the way to go. My wife says I look younger, everybody does, I look like I used to . . .it’s amazing."

DOROTHY PURVIS, MitraClip patient, November 2015
"It was a good experience–the hospital gave me lots of attention, and I felt at home there. Princeton was great!"

Technology & Innovation

In its relative infancy, but growing rapidly, structural heart and valve disease intervention truly blurs the lines between interventional cardiology and cardiac surgery, and the last few years have seen an explosion in new treatment options for patients. As the practice of medicine continues heading towards more minimally invasive treatments, new innovative techniques and technology are being adopted.

Princeton Baptist offers industry-leading, cutting-edge technology, including:

  • Echocardiography laboratory – This includes three-dimensional transthoracic and transesophageal imaging capability. In addition to stress echocardiography, it allows detection of very subtle changes in heart structure and function and comprehensive assessment of even the most complex of problems.

  • Hybrid operating room – This leading technology essentially combines state-of-the-art imaging equipment permanently within a surgical operating room to allow the entire heart team – imaging specialists, structural cardiologists and cardiac surgeons – to perform the most complex, minimally-invasive procedures in a controlled environment.

  • Biplane, digitally integrated cardiac cath lab (construction in progress) – This new lab will be one of the most up-to-date in the nation and will allow us to approach the most complex structural heart defects with utmost precision.

Additional resources

For Additional Information CONTACT US TODAY Call Us (205) 783-3320 Email Us


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