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The John Brancaccio Heart Valve Center


Welcome to The John Brancaccio Heart Valve Center at St. Francis Hospital, a one-stop destination for the screening and evaluation of valvular disease. As pioneers in Transcatheter Aortic Valve replacement or TAVR, we are experts in the latest minimally invasive options for treating heart valve disease. Our outstanding interventional cardiologists work in tandem with leading cardiothoracic surgeons to determine the best course of treatment for our patients. Whether we take a catheter-based approach or traditional open-heart surgery, our goal is to have the safest and most successful outcomes. Please take the opportunity to explore our web pages and let us know if you have any questions by calling (516) 414-3000.

- George A. Petrossian, M.D., and Newell B. Robinson, M.D., Co-Directors of the TAVR Program
For a consultation call us at: (516) 414-3000

Heart Valve Center - An Overview

St. Francis Hospital, The Heart Center® is a pioneer in the latest investigational approaches for treating valve disease. The Hospital was the first site in the U.S. to be activated for a major nationwide study that changed the face of treating aortic valve stenosis. Its findings from the Medtronic CoreValve Pivotal Trial helped win FDA approval of a revolutionary, minimally invasive device that allows patients who are too elderly or sick to avoid open heart surgery.

Our outstanding, dedicated team of interventional cardiologists, cardiothoracic surgeons, and highly-trained staff work together to provide patients the most viable options for valve repair and replacement therapy. In keeping with this comprehensive approach, the Heart Valve Center at St. Francis Hospital provides a one-stop destination for screening and evaluation of valvular disease.

We offer same day testing and consultation with our physicians to determine the best treatment solutions. While open-heart surgery has been standard for treating conditions such as aortic valve stenosis, our pioneering physicians are experts in Transcatheter Aortic-Valve Replacement procedures that can provide qualifying patients with the best minimally invasive options.

Conditions Treated

Aortic Valve Stenosis or Aortic Stenosis

The aortic valve controls blood flow from the heart to the rest of the body. Aortic stenosis (AS) occurs when the aortic valve doesn’t open properly. This forces your heart to work harder to pump blood throughout your body. Over time, the heart muscle weakens. This affects your overall health and keeps you from participating in normal daily activities. Left untreated, severe AS is a very serious, life-threatening condition, leading to heart failure and increased risk for sudden cardiac death. Severe AS is often not preventable, causes narrowing of the aortic valve, and may be related to the following:

  • Age
  • A buildup of mineral (calcium) deposits that narrows the aortic valve (stenosis)
  • Radiation therapy
  • A history of a bacterial infection of the heart (rheumatic fever)
  • Increased fat in the blood vessels (high cholesterol)

Signs and symptoms of severe AS can include:

  • Chest pain or tightness
  • Feeling faint or fainting with activity
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Irregular heart beat (palpitations)
  • Unusual sound heard during a heartbeat (murmur)

Mitral Valve Disease develops when the mitral valve, which is located between the left chambers of your heart – the left atrium and ventricle — doesn’t work correctly.

Types of mitral valve conditions include:

  • Mitral stenosis is a narrowing of the mitral valve opening. Mitral stenosis restricts blood flow from the left atrium to the left ventricle. Mitral stenosis is caused when blood flow through the narrow valve opening is reduced. As a result, the volume and pressure from blood remaining in the left atrium increases which then causes the left atrium to enlarge. Mitral stenosis almost always results from scarlet fever, a childhood illness that sometimes occurs as a result of untreated strep throat or scarlet fever. Symptoms are similar to those of AS.
  • Mitral Valve Regurgitation occurs when the flaps or leaflets of the mitral valve don’t close tightly, causing blood to leak backward into your heart. The most common cause of the problem is mitral valve prolapse, in which the leaflets bulge back into the left atrium as your heart contracts. If left untreated, it could damage the heart muscle.

Key Treatments

Surgery - St. Francis Hospital is recognized as a national leader in cardiology and heart surgery. U.S. News & World Report has ranked St. Francis as one of the top ten hospitals in the country in that category. Our hospital has consistently had the largest cardiac surgical volume in New York State since 1992. In fact, the NYS Department Health has recognized our program for its outstanding success rates more times than any other hospital in the New York metropolitan area.

Open-heart surgery has been the gold standard for treating severe aortic valve stenosis, offering a safe and effective treatment for patients who are not considered high risk. During the procedure, the surgeon makes an incision down the center of the sternum or breastbone to get access to the heart. Patients are then placed on a heart-lung bypass machine, which takes over the function of both organs. This machine maintains circulation throughout the valve replacement procedure, for which St. Francis has had excellent safety rates.

TAVR - Transcatheter Aortic-Valve Replacement or TAVR is a new, minimally invasive procedure that channels a tube called a catheter containing a prosthetic valve through the femoral artery to reach the heart via one of several possible routes, including the femoral artery, subclavian artery, a direct aortic approach, or through the apex of the heart itself. If the patient’s femoral or leg arteries are large enough, this is the preferred approach. The procedure is typically used for patients who are too elderly or sick for open-heart surgery. St. Francis physicians currently use two devices for this procedure: Medtronic CoreValve® or the Edwards Sapien Valve®, both of which are approved for high risk and extreme risk patients. In addition, CoreValve® is available for intermediate risk patients as part of a national clinical research trial. The St. Francis team has performed about 2,000 TAVR procedures, one of the largest volumes in the U.S.

Screening Tests Provided

Echocardiogram - An echocardiogram is a test that relies on sound waves to create pictures of the heart and blood flow through the heart. The picture is more detailed than a standard x-ray image.

CT Angiography of the Chest, Abdomen, and Pelvis - Computerized tomographic angiography or CT Angiography (CTA) is a test that uses a conventional CT scan to create detailed images of the blood vessels in the body. The test involves the intravenous injection of a contrast dye to visualize blood flow within the vessels.

Pulmonary Function Test - Pulmonary function tests are a group of tests that measure how well the lungs take in and breathe out air and how well they move gases such as oxygen from the atmosphere into the blood stream. During the test, you breathe into a mouthpiece that is connected to an instrument called a spirometer. The spirometer records the amount and the rate of air flow as you breathe in and out over a period of time.

Learn about Research trials at St. Francis Hospital.

#1 for TAVR on Long Island

Meet Our Physicians

St. Francis has opened a second Heart Valve Center in Suffolk County.  Learn more.



Please click here for Questions and Answers about Minimally Invasive Aortic Valve Replacement