Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) is a minimally invasive surgical procedure to replace a narrowed aortic valve that fails to open properly, obstructing blood flow from your heart into your aorta and onward to the rest of your body. This surgery repairs the valve without removing the old, damaged valve. Instead, it wedges a replacement valve into the aortic valves place.
TAVR may be an option for people who are considered at intermediate or high risk of complications from surgical aortic valve replacement. It may also be an option for people who can’t undergo open-heart surgery.
Signs & SymptomsJump Up
Transcatheter aortic valve replacement is done to replace the aortic valve in people with aortic valve stenosis. Aortic valve stenosis occurs when the heart’s aortic valve narrows, preventing the valve from opening fully and therefore, obstructing blood flow from your heart into your aorta and into the rest of your body. Aortic stenosis can cause the following symptoms:
- Chest pain
- Leg swelling
- Shortness of breath
- Heart failure and sudden cardiac death
What to ExpectJump Up
Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) delivers a fully collapsible replacement valve to the valve site through a catheter.
BEFORE THE PROCEDURE
You’ll be evaluated by our Valve Clinic staff to make sure you don’t have any risk factors that may affect you during the procedure and you may be given medication to reduce the risk of infection. You may also receive general anesthesia through an IV before the procedure.
DURING THE PROCEDURE
The treatment team will monitor your heart function and rhythm and watch for any changes in heart function that may occur throughout the procedure. This can be managed with treatments during the procedure if needed.
TAVR can be done in many ways; however, the most common approach doctors will use is to access your heart through a blood vessel in your leg (transfemoral approach). Other approaches may be considered by your doctor depending on your individual anatomy.
A hollow tube (catheter) is inserted through the access point. Your doctor will then use advanced imaging techniques to guide the catheter through your blood vessels, to your heart, and into your aortic valve. Once positioned, a balloon is expanded to press the replacement valve into place in the native aortic valve.
Once your doctor is certain that the valve is securely in place, the catheter is withdrawn from your blood vessel or from the incision in your chest.
AFTER THE PROCEDURE
You may have to spend the night in the intensive care unit for monitoring after your procedure. In most cases, patients will spend about two to five days recovering in the hospital.
You’ll need to take blood-thinning medications to prevent blood clots after the procedure. Your doctor will discuss this with you and will recommend that you take medications before certain dental procedures to prevent certain infection (you are at a higher risk with a replacement heart valve). You will likely have regular follow-up appointments with your doctor after the procedure.
What risks are associated with TAVR?
The most serious risks of TAVR include death, major stroke, vascular complications, and a life-threatening bleeding event.
How can TAVR improve the lives of people with aortic stenosis who can’t have surgery or for whom surgery is too risky?
TAVR can reduce the risk of death, improve signs and symptoms of aortic valve stenosis, and improve overall health. After the procedure, patients are better able to take care of themselves and return to everyday activities with their improved heart function.
Will I have aches and pains afterwards?
Yes, and this is a normal part of the recovery process. You doctor may prescribe medication to help.