After two long COVID years, the iconic Rocky Mountain Valve Symposium has returned to the International Heart Institute within Providence St. Patrick Hospital.

The 30th symposium, which began on Thursday and ends on Friday, has brought together many talented physicians and surgeons from around the country to learn about new lifesaving techniques.

Dr. Joseph Schmoker, Medical Director of Cardio-Thoracic Surgery took a break from the symposium to share the news with KGVO. He began with a brief history of the event.

“It's called the Rocky Mountain Valve Symposium, and it was initially started by doctors Carlos Duran and James Oury, who were surgeons here,” said Dr. Schmoker. “Carlos Duran was an internationally famous surgeon who developed some of the mitral valve techniques that are techniques still used today.”

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Dr. Schmoker said the symposium has evolved to feature the newest and least invasive surgical techniques performed by physicians all over the world.

“As the meeting has evolved into something that we call a ‘heart team’ approach because over the last 10 years or so, there's been a development of percutaneous therapies, meaning valve therapies that can be inserted through catheters as opposed to a surgical incision. So we partner with our cardiology colleagues to put on the meaning and we talk about both surgical repair techniques and catheter-based repair techniques.”

Dr. Schmoker provided more details on the catheter-based techniques.

“Primarily these catheter-based techniques, are where valves can be repaired or replaced, just through catheters that are inserted either into a groin vessel or to a tiny incision in the chest wall,” he said. “And really, these procedures are growing in an exponential fashion. It doesn't mean that it's going to rule out surgery for a lot of people, but it certainly can help a subgroup of people who may not be able to be candidates for surgical therapy.”

Dr. Schmoker said the International Heart Institute is a totally unique institution located within Providence St. Patrick Hospital.

“I think the International Heart Institute is unique here, in that it's located in a smaller hospital in a smaller town, yet the procedures that are performed here, whether they're surgery or catheter-based procedures, rank with a lot of academic institutions and what we do,” he said. “We have a very robust clinical trials program here that is headed by Dr. Dan Spoon. We really try to maintain the cutting edge of technology that actually adds to and improves our patient care.”

Read more about the International Heart Institute here, and the Rocky Mountain Valve Symposium here.

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