Seton Heart Institute’s Heart Valve Clinic Offers Life Saving Heart Procedure for Fragile Patients


AUSTIN, Texas – (Dec. 17, 2014) – Longtime Burnet resident Jess Posey has been riding motorcycles for more than 60 years. However, his rides through the Hill Country have been put on hold because doctors told the 79-year-old that he needed a life-saving procedure to treat heart valve disease that was causing severe shortness of breath.

Posey was treated by physicians at the Heart Valve Clinic at Seton Heart Institute. They determined Posey would need a newer, minimally invasive procedure that would save his life.

Two Seton Heart Institute cardiologists, Drs. Mark Pirwitz and Tannon Carroll, now provide initial consultations for conditions such as aortic stenosis, leaky heart valves and heart murmurs at Seton Highland Lakes Hospital. Each patient works closely with a multi-disciplinary medical team that includes heart surgeons and cardiologists to get a comprehensive assessment of potential treatments. The clinic is located at at 3201 S. Water Street in Burnet.


“Essentially, it’s a one-stop shop for patients with valvular heart disease, eliminating the need for multiple visits to multiple specialists,” Pirwitz, Seton Heart Institute president and chief executive officer, said. “Seton’s valve clinic offers the latest, minimally-invasive treatments for valve conditions, which means Central Texans no longer have to travel to other cities to get state-of-the-art quality of care.”

Jess’s Innovative Valve Procedure

Posey underwent a procedure called Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement, or TAVR, which offers many benefits for heart patients with critical aortic stenosis, or severe narrowing of a heart valve. Posey, like many other heart valve patients, needed an invasive aortic valve replacement, but was not a candidate for traditional “open heart” surgery.

A TAVR procedure places a new aortic valve into the heart via a catheter inserted through an incision in the groin area. Surgeons guide it up to the heart through the circulatory system.

“The average hospital stay is two to three days,” said Carroll, co-director of the Seton Heart Valve Clinic. “This new treatment method can offer a much shorter recovery time – one to two weeks, versus six to eight weeks with the traditional sternotomy, or open heart surgery.”

“The procedure gives me new hope,” Posey said. “It’s been a little over a month and I’m looking forward to a more active lifestyle again. Maybe I’ll even go golfing soon with my son-in-law and start riding my Harley again. I miss that.”

Jess is one of nine Central Texas patients who successfully underwent TAVR procedures at Seton since July 2014.

Click here to see animation of a TAVR procedure.

MitraClip® Study for Leaky Valves

The Seton valve clinic is the first site in Central Texas to participate in a groundbreaking study of the potential benefits of MitraClip®, a catheter-based, less invasive treatment option that can help patients with leaky heart valves.

An estimated 4 million Americans suffer from a condition called mitral valve regurgitation, which stems from a leaky valve that allows blood to flow backward in the heart. It is a progressive disease that damages the cardiac muscle and can cause stroke and heart failure.

For some patients, the surgical risk is very high.

“As cardiologists, we see patients who are simply too fragile for traditional mitral regurgitation surgery,” Pirwitz said. “The Valve Clinic at Seton Heart Institute is excited to offer MitraClip, which can potentially offer a less risky treatment for this life-threatening condition.”

The device is delivered into the heart through the femoral vein, a blood vessel in the leg. Once implanted, it allows the heart to pump blood more efficiently, thereby relieving symptoms and improving a patient’s quality of life. Patients undergoing MitraClip therapy typically experience short recovery times and are back on their feet faster.

Click here to see animation of the MitraClip procedure.

Seton Heart Institute has begun enrolling patients for the trial. For more information, visit

Heart Valve Disease Facts:

  • According to the American Heart Association, about 5 million Americans are diagnosed with heart valve disease each year.
  • According to the National Institutes of Health, about 200,000 people in the U.S. live with significant aortic stenosis, a severe narrowing of the heart valve, which often develops into debilitating symptoms that can significantly impact one’s quality of life.