Over 100 of the finest heart specialists in the world are gathered in Missoula through Saturday for the annual Rocky Mountain Valve Symposium at St. Patrick Hospital.

photo by Peter Christian

Managing Partner and Cardiologist Dr. Joseph Knapp of the International Heart Institute at Providence St. Patrick Hospital said the symposium is in its 24th year.

"This is an opportunity for us as cardiologists and cardiac surgeons to bring to our community and to our practice experts from around the country and really, from around the world who want to teach us newer ways of managing people with valvular heart disease," Dr. Knapp said.

Dr. Knapp said the symposium draws participation from all 50 states and many foreign countries.

"We have right at 100 doctors here from all over the country including support staff. I was just visiting with a cardiac surgeon from Argentina, who is still depressed over the loss of the World Cup," he said. "And to flip the coin on that, we also have a doctor from the University of Washington who is of German descent, so he's still celebrating."

photo by Peter Christian

Dr. Knapp said the symposium is more than just lectures and multimedia presentations.

"We have hands-on workshops for surgeons where we'll work on pig hearts to learn some of the techniques they'll be exposed to," he said.( See YouTube Video above) "There are also workshops for support staff, imaging workshops to help us use technology more effective as we help patients with vascular diseases."

The theme for this year's Rocky Mountain Valve Symposium is “Aortic Valve and Ascending Aorta: Repair, Replace, Rethink.” The Symposium is being held at the Broadway Conference Center at Providence St. Patrick Hospital.

 Managing Partner and Cardiologist Dr. Joseph Knapp

Dr. Matt Maxwell Cardiac Surgeon