Advanced technologies and techniques are being used to help patients at Owensboro Health Regional Hospital, thanks to the arrival of a new specialist.

Abdelkader Almanfi, MD joined Owensboro Health’s One Health medical group in July 2016, specializing in interventional cardiology care. Dr. Almanfi comes to Owensboro Health from the Texas Heart Institute in Houston, one of the foremost cardiology centers in the world, where he completed fellowships in cardiology and interventional cardiology. Since his arrival, Dr. Almanfi has completed two procedures never performed before at Owensboro Health Regional Hospital.

The earlier procedure, an aortic valvuloplasty, uses a minimally invasive approach to correct aortic stenosis, a narrowing of the valve between the heart and the aorta, the artery which channels blood from the heart to the rest of the body. This problem limits the flow of blood to the rest of the body, which can lead to serious, even life-threatening complications.

During the valvuloplasty procedure, a small device is inserted into the femoral artery, near the patient’s groin, and then threaded up to the aorta in the chest. The device contains a balloon that is inflated and used to widen the valve opening. Standard valvuloplasty devices use a balloon that completely obstructs the aorta for a short time. This requires the use of “rapid pacing,” during which the patient’s heart rate is increased using a temporary pacemaker.

However, this procedure marked the first time a new device, the True™ Flow Valvuloplasty Perfusion Catheter, has been used in Kentucky. The True™ Flow catheter stands apart from previous devices because it allows blood to flow through the center of the balloon. Because the flow of blood is not interrupted, providers can avoid the use of rapid pacing and keep the balloon inflated for longer times. Following a standard valvuloplasty, Dr. Almanfi said blood flow is typically increased by 30 to 40 percent. Following the use of the True™ Flow device, Dr. Almanfi said the patient treated saw a flow increase of 80 percent and was able to return home the next day.

“This makes the procedure easier and more comfortable, plus the results from this procedure were impressive,” Dr. Almanfi said.

During the procedure, Dr. Almanfi was accompanied by another local cardiologist, Dr. Kishor Vora. Previously trained in the use of valvuloplasty in the early 1990s, Dr. Vora said he asked to join Dr. Almanfi in the catheterization lab to observe use of the new device, and was pleased that he had the opportunity to do so.

“I think it was good teamwork, and it was nice that we could work on a collegial level,” Dr. Vora said. “We can all work together, and I think our goal is to help the community and the patients.”

A week after performing the first aortic valvuloplasty, Dr. Almanfi performed another new minimally invasive procedure, using a catheter-based approach to surgically correct an atrial-septal defect. This problem occurs when there is a hole between two chambers of the heart, interfering with the correct flow of blood. Dr. Vora also observed this procedure being performed.

With a less-severe defect, patients can live a normal, healthy life and may never know it exists. When the defect is more severe, this can increase the risk of complications and other illnesses, such as pulmonary hypertension. Using a catheter-based approach, Dr. Almanfi was able to repair the hole without the need for major heart surgery, and the patient was able to return home the following day.

“It's an honor to be in this hospital and bring new technology. We strive to do this every day for our patients in our communities,” Dr. Almanfi said.

Dr. Michael Scherm, chief medical officer for Owensboro Health, said offering procedures of this type is another example of the health system’s efforts to fulfill its mission to heal the sick and improve the health of the communities it serves.

“Traveling out of the area to receive care may represent a hardship and may not be an option for patients who need these interventions. Owensboro Health’s ability to offer this level of advanced care can make a significant difference for our patients,” Dr. Scherm said. “We’re not only trying to increase their lifespan, but improve their quality of life so they can go back to doing the activities they enjoy.”