Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR)
TAVR is a minimally invasive procedure for patients with aortic valve stenosis, or a narrowing of the valve. This procedure replaces the aortic valve without opening the chest. It is used to treat adults who aren't candidates for regular valve surgery.
An aortic valve that does not open fully will restrict blood flow. This is called aortic stenosis. If there is also a leak, it is called aortic regurgitation. Most aortic valves are replaced because they restrict flow forward through the aorta to the brain and body.
How TAVR Works
In this minimally invasive procedure, a new valve is inserted within the diseased aortic valve. While there are several approaches to insertion, the most common is the transfemoral approach (through a small incision in the upper leg).
The doctor will insert a short, hollow tube (called a sheath) into the incision. This small tube allows access to the heart. The new valve is compressed onto a balloon to make it small enough to transport through the tube. Once it reaches the diseased valve, the balloon will inflate, expanding the new valve into place. When secured, the balloon is deflated and removed.
Why the Procedure is Performed
TAVR may be done for the following reasons:
- You are having major heart symptoms, such as chest pain (angina), shortness of breath, fainting spells (syncope), or heart failure.
- Tests show that changes in your aortic valve are beginning to seriously harm how well your heart works.
- You can't have regular valve surgery because it would put your health at risk. (Note: Studies are being performed to see whether more patients could be helped by the surgery.)
Benefits of TAVR
Because it’s minimally invasive, this procedure has many benefits for patients, including:
- Reduction in pain and anxiety
- Less blood loss
- Lowered risk of infection
- No open heart surgery
- Shorter hospital stay and faster recovery compared to traditional open-heart surgery
- Relief of symptoms and improved heart function
Meet with your provider to determine if you might be a candidate for TAVR.