What Is TAVR?

The transcatheter aortic valve replacement, or TAVR procedure, is a minimally invasive form of heart surgery. Heart surgeons use it to perform an aortic valve replacement on patients who have a diseased aortic valve, but cannot undergo traditional open-heart surgery due to health risks.

How Does a TAVR Procedure Work?

TAVR allows an interventional cardiologist to make very small incisions in either the chest or the groin (near the femoral artery) to reach the aortic valve.

During a TAVR procedure, your interventional cardiologist will thread a thin catheter through your artery to the aortic valve. The catheter will have a small balloon at the end of it, and when the catheter reaches your aortic valve, the surgeon will expand the balloon. The cardiologist will then guide your new aortic valve over the balloon. The new valve will start regulating blood flow. Most procedures are done within two to four hours.

Because the procedure is minimally invasive, its benefits include lower risk of infection, shorter hospital stays and faster healing time. Many patients are able to leave the hospital less than one week after their procedure, and some may only require a one-night stay.

Who Benefits From a TAVR Procedure?

If you or your loved one has severe aortic stenosis, but is also a high surgical risk, you may benefit from a TAVR procedure.

What Is Aortic Stenosis?

Aortic stenosis is a common form of heart disease in adults, especially those age 65 and older. Approximately 2% of adults over age 65 have it, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. If left untreated, aortic stenosis can cause serious health complications.

Your aorta is the main artery in your heart that transfers blood to the rest of your body, and your aortic valve helps the blood flow. A diseased aortic valve can’t fully open. This reduces blood flow to the heart and causes the heart to work much harder.

What Makes Someone High Surgical Risk?

Someone may be considered high surgical risk if they are not healthy enough to undergo open-heart surgery. Traditionally, a heart valve replacement requires a procedure called a sternotomy, where surgeons separate the chest bones. The fact that the TAVR procedure can replace a diseased aortic heart valve through small incisions is what makes it a leading-edge procedure. With TAVR, patients can receive advanced cardiac care with fewer risks to their health.

Our cardiology department is able to perform numerous cardiovascular surgeries and treatments, including the TAVR procedure. Find a location near you.