• Lauren Roth

Heart Team Approach with Katherine Harrington, MD

Updated: Sep 11, 2019

In this episode, we interview Katherine Harrington, MD, on all things "Heart Team". Dr. Harrington is a cardiothoracic surgeon specializing in CABG, aortic valve surgery, and aortic aneurysms and dissections, including endovascular options. The heart team approach to patient care includes having a group of doctors determine and carry out a treatment plan for their patients, whether that be through clinical research trials, medical management, minimally invasive surgery, or traditional open-heart surgery. Check out an excerpt below, and then listen to the full episode on our podcast!

Tell us about the teams you are involved with at The Heart Hospital.

I'm both on the TAVR Team and Team Aorta. The heart team came about a lot through the TAVR program originally because it was mandated by the government that there be both a surgeon and a cardiologist that evaluate and operate on every patient. We really have taken that philosophy and expanded it to all sub-specialties here at our hospital.

So whereas when we look at the heart team approach for valve disease, it would be myself and a cardiologist, but for Team Aorta, it would be a heart surgeon and a vascular surgeon because the aorta transverses the whole body and we both work on that area, so we come together to treat the whole aorta.

Why is it important to have a team approach to any of these specialties?

So, for one reason, it's great to have a team approach because each sub-specialty has their own knowledge that they bring to the disease process. The patient gets the opinion of multiple people who have different exposure and different training. It's also nice that we see patients as a team because in the past you would have to see, say three or four doctors referred around each time, whereas if you come to one of our team clinics, you get seen by all physicians at the same time. It's more efficient and we can talk about your case altogether and it really gets you the most comprehensive plan. When you see one surgeon, if they can't offer a procedure to you, you might never even hear about that. But, if you see multiple people who have different procedures that they can offer you, you get all possible options.

When someone comes into your clinic, they'll see multiple surgeons at the same time?

Correct. For example, for the TAVR team, the TAVR procedure puts an aortic valve up through the groin with no incisions, not stopping the heart. That is always done with one heart surgeon and one interventional cardiologist. But, seeing the patients in the TAVR clinic requires several other doctors. There's a cardiologist who just looks at the CT scan and images and tells us what size valve to put in. And then there's an echo doctor that looks at the ultrasound and helps us determine if they really need the valve.

For an appointment or more information, please call 469.814.3480 or email us at TexasTeamAorta@gmail.com.

Photo courtesy of @heart.beat.doctor

Photo credit @audriedollins