TAVR Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement
What is Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR)?
TAVR is a minimally invasive surgical procedure that repairs the valve without removing the old, damaged valve. Instead, it wedges a replacement valve into the aortic valve’s place.
Somewhat similar to a stent placed in an artery, the TAVR approach delivers a fully collapsible replacement valve to the valve site through a catheter.
Once the new valve is expanded, it pushes the old valve leaflets out of the way and the tissue in the replacement valve takes over the job of regulating blood flow.
This procedure is for people with symptomatic aortic stenosis who are considered an intermediate or high risk patient for standard valve replacement surgery. The differences in the two procedures are significant.
What should I expect during a TAVR procedure?
Traditional valve replacement requires an open heart procedure with a “sternotomy.”, in which the chest is surgically separated (open) for the procedure. The TAVR or TAVI procedures can be done through very small openings that leave all the chest bones in place.
The TAVR procedure is performed using one of two different approaches, allowing the cardiologist or surgeon to choose which one provides the best and safest way to access the valve:
- Entering through the femoral artery (large artery in the groin), called the transfemoral approach, which does not require a surgical incision in the chest
- Using a minimally invasive surgical approach with a small incision in the chest and entering through a large artery in the chest or through the tip of the left ventricle (the apex), which is known as the transapical approach.
Who is a good candidate for this type of valve surgery?
At this time the procedure is reserved for those people for whom an open heart procedure poses intermediate risk. For that reason, most people who have this procedure are in their 70s or 80s and often have other medical conditions that make them a better candidate for this type of surgery.
TAVR can be an effective option to improve quality of life in patients who otherwise have limited choices for repair of their aortic valve.