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Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR)

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Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR)

Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) is a minimally invasive procedure for patients diagnosed with severe symptomatic aortic stenosis who are at intermediate or greater risk for traditional surgical valve replacement.  During a TAVR a prosthetic valve is inserted within the diseased aortic valve while the heart is still beating.  Once the new valve is placed, it pushes the existing valve leaflets out of the way and the replacement valve’s leaflets take over the job of regulating blood flow. 

This procedure utilizes a multidisciplinary approach consisting of Interventional Cardiologists, Cardio-Thoracic Surgeons, Imaging specialist, Anesthesiologist, referring cardiologist, cardiac catheter lab and O.R. staff, and the valve clinic coordinator.  We also have specially trained staff who will prepare you prior to the procedure and specially trained nurses who handle your care post procedure.
During TAVR, Interventional Cardiologists and Cardiothoracic Surgeons work together to replace the aortic valve via catheters inserted into the femoral artery in your leg. The trans-femoral approach (through the groin) is used in the majority of patients.  In some cases, a valve can be inserted via a catheter into a previously placed tissue valve that needs to be replaced (valve-in-valve procedure).  This minimally invasive technique is performed without opening the chest as in traditional open heart surgery. This allows patients to recover more quickly than open chest procedures, reduces the risk of surgical complications, and allows patients to go home quicker than the traditional surgery.

Advantages of TAVR:
  • Least invasive way of replacing the aortic valve
  • Little to no pain
  • No large incision
  • Short hospital stay typically 2- 4 days
  • Few restrictions post discharge. 
  • Patients up and moving within 4 - 6 hours after the procedure.
  • Age is not a factor.  We have successfully performed TAVRs on patients greater than 90 years old, greatly increasing their quality of life.

What is aortic stenosis?
Aortic Stenosis is a narrowing of the aortic valve opening and is one of the most common and most serious valve diseases.  As the aortic valve narrows it restricts blood flow from your heart into your aorta and onward to the rest of your body.  In order to pump blood through the narrowed valve your heart must work harder causing the walls of the heart to thicken and enlarge.  Eventually, this extra work limits the amount of blood it can pump and may weaken your heart muscle. 

What causes aortic stenosis?
Although aortic stenosis can be caused by a congenital heart defect or Rheumatic fever, the majority of cases are due to calcium buildup on the valve leaflets as people age. 

The heart-weakening effects of aortic valve stenosis may lead to heart failure.  Signs and symptoms of aortic stenosis and heart failure include:

  • Chest pain or tightness
  • Fainting or dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue, especially with activity
  • Heart palpitations
  • Swollen ankles and feet
  • History of a heart murmur

Normal Aortic Valve                                    Stenotic Aortic Valve