TAVI Teaching Centre of Excellence an Australian first at St Andrew’s


Seven years after becoming Queensland’s fist private hospital to perform a Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation (TAVI), the CardioVascular Clinics team at St Andrew’s War Memorial Hospital has been named a TAVI Teaching Centre of Excellence by Edwards Lifesciences.

Dr Karl Poon & Dr Alexander IncaniThe designation signifies extensive TAVI experience, outcomes and the outstanding teaching contribution of St Andrew’s interventional cardiologists, Drs Karl Poon and Alexander Incani.

CardioVascular Clinics’ Dr Karl Poon said St Andrew’s was the first hospital in Australia and New Zealand to become a TAVI Teaching Centre of Excellence, joining a handful of world-leading centres in the United States, Europe and South Korea.

“We are humbled to be the only centre in our region to receive this designation which reflects our passion in teaching, track record of excellence in TAVI outcomes and ongoing involvement with new TAVI techniques and devices,” Dr Poon said.

“It means that when patients come to us for a TAVI procedure they can expect the best result possible from one of the most experienced teams in Asia Pacific.

“Since the first procedure in 2015, our team have collectively accumulated experience through more than 1,500 cases, including 800 performed at St Andrew’s,” he said.

The cutting-edge procedure provides patients with a superior alternative to open heart surgery for treatment of aortic stenosis, a condition which causes narrowing of the aortic valve and was recently estimated to affect close to 100,000 Australians*.

Aortic stenosis prevents normal blood flow through the heart and is most often caused by age-related calcification. Without treatment, patients with symptoms have a 50 per cent mortality rate in two years.

“TAVI involves a small incision in the groin through which a catheter is inserted and travels to the heart. The new valve is passed through the aortic valve, where a balloon inflates the new valve into place,” Dr Poon said.

“In July 2022, TAVI was approved for almost all patients with aortic stenosis, young and old, as a superior alternative to open heart surgery,” he said. 

As qualified international teachers, Drs Karl Poon and Alexander Incani also travel across Asia Pacific training cardiologists in the TAVI procedure.

“We are called upon by our colleagues across Asia Pacific for guidance and analysis of their complex structural cardiac cases, and in doing so, continue to also refine our techniques and bring back devices from trailblazer operators around the world to ensure our practice remains best in class for our Queensland patients,” Dr Poon said.

St Andrew’s Director of Medical Services, Dr Michael Gillman, said the achievement was another important milestone in St Andrew’s long and proud history of innovation in cardiac care.

“This outstanding achievement is a testament to our multidisciplinary team, and to their dedication to providing advanced, safe and high-quality cardiac care,” Dr Gillman said.

“From performing the first open heart surgery in 1985 to today, our commitment remains to continually exceed clinical expectations and provide our patients with the best possible cardiac care.”

At St Andrew’s, a multidisciplinary team approach combining the expertise of interventional cardiologists, cardiothoracic surgeons, echocardiologists, intensivists, anaesthetists and geriatricians, work together to decide the best treatment plan for each patient and assess whether TAVI is an option.

Edwards Lifesciences is a global medical and cardiac device manufacturer.


*Strange G, Scalia GM, Playford D, Simon S. Uncovering the treatable burden of severe aortic stenosis in Australia: current and future projections within an ageing population. BMC Health Serv Res. 2021 Aug 11;21(1):790. doi: 10.1186/s12913-021-06843-0. PMID: 34376198; PMCID: PMC8356417.