Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) is a minimally invasive procedure to replace a narrowed aortic valve that fails to open properly (aortic stenosis). Transcatheter aortic valve replacement is sometimes called transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI).

Transcatheter aortic valve replacement is typically reserved for people who can't undergo open-heart surgery or for people for whom surgery presents too many risks.

Transcatheter aortic valve replacement relieves the signs and symptoms of aortic stenosis and improves survival in people who can't undergo surgery or have a high risk of surgical complications.

Read more about aortic valve stenosis.

About

Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) is a minimally invasive procedure to replace the aortic valve in people with aortic stenosis.

Aortic valve stenosis — or aortic stenosis — occurs when the heart's aortic valve narrows. This narrowing prevents the valve from opening fully, which obstructs blood flow from your heart into your aorta and onward to the rest of your body. Aortic stenosis can cause chest pain, fainting, fatigue, leg swelling and shortness of breath. It may also lead to heart failure.

Who benefits most from TAVR

Transcatheter aortic valve replacement may be an option if you have aortic stenosis that causes signs and symptoms and you can't have surgery or surgery is too risky. For instance, you may be unable to have surgery due to other health problems, such as diabetes, heart disease, lung disease and kidney disease, that increase your risk of complications.

Before transcatheter aortic valve replacement you'll receive testing and evaluation by a team of specialists. Doctors will check your condition to determine your treatment options.

What occurs during TAVR

Transcatheter aortic valve replacement involves replacing your damaged aortic valve with one made from cow heart tissue.

You'll receive anesthetics, so you'll be unconscious during the procedure.

During transcatheter aortic valve replacement doctors access your heart through a blood vessel in your leg or through a tiny incision in your chest. A hollow tube (catheter) is inserted through the access point. Your doctor uses advanced imaging techniques to guide the catheter through your blood vessels and to your heart.

Once it's precisely positioned, special tools and the replacement valve are passed through the catheter. A balloon is expanded to press the replacement valve into place.

When your doctor is certain the valve is securely in place, the catheter is withdrawn from your blood vessel or from the incision in your chest.

Expect to sleep overnight in the intensive care unit for monitoring after your procedure and three to five days recovering in the hospital.

Risks

Transcatheter aortic valve replacement carries a risk of complications, including:

  • Stroke
  • Heart rhythm abnormalities (arrhythmia)
  • Kidney disease
  • Problems with the replacement valve, such as the valve slipping out of place
  • Blood vessel tearing
  • Heart attack
  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Death

Results

Transcatheter aortic valve replacement can improve the lives of people with aortic stenosis who can't have surgery or for whom surgery is too risky. In these people, transcatheter aortic valve replacement reduces the risk of death. This procedure also relieves the signs and symptoms of aortic valve stenosis and improves overall health.

Jun. 06, 2013