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.

  • Teamwork. At Mayo Clinic, cardiovascular disease specialists, such as interventional cardiologists and noninvasive cardiologists, work with cardiac surgeons, radiologists, anesthesiologists and nurses to care for people undergoing transcatheter aortic valve replacement. Other professionals are included as needed.
  • Experience. Cardiologists at Mayo Clinic have received specialized training and have extensive experience performing transcatheter aortic valve replacement. Procedures performed by doctors who have more experience in performing transcatheter aortic valve replacement tend to have better outcomes.
  • Latest technology. Mayo Clinic doctors have the latest imaging technology available to help them in planning and performing transcatheter aortic valve replacement. Accurate planning before the procedure helps reduce the risk of complications.
  • Comprehensive evaluation. At Mayo Clinic, people with aortic stenosis are evaluated by a multidisciplinary team of specialists to determine the most appropriate treatment. Transcatheter aortic valve replacement is one of several treatment options available at Mayo Clinic.
  • Research. Doctors and researchers at Mayo Clinic are involved in developing and testing the latest technology and techniques used to care for people with heart valve disease.

Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., is ranked among the Best Hospitals for heart and heart surgery by U.S. News & World Report.

At Mayo Clinic, we assemble a team of specialists who take the time to listen and thoroughly understand your health issues and concerns. We tailor the care you receive to your personal health care needs. You can trust our specialists to collaborate and offer you the best possible outcomes, safety and service.

Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit medical institution that reinvests all earnings into improving medical practice, research and education. We're constantly involved in innovation and medical research, finding solutions to improve your care and quality of life. Your doctor or someone on your medical team is likely involved in research related to your condition.

Our patients tell us that the quality of their interactions, our attention to detail and the efficiency of their visits mean health care — and trusted answers — like they've never experienced.

Why Choose Mayo Clinic

What Sets Mayo Clinic Apart

Mayo Clinic works with hundreds of insurance companies and is an in-network provider for millions of people. In most cases, Mayo Clinic doesn't require a physician referral. Some insurers require referrals or may have additional requirements for certain medical care. All appointments are prioritized on the basis of medical need.

At Mayo Clinic in Arizona, specialists in cardiovascular diseases and in cardiovascular and thoracic surgery care for people undergoing transcatheter aortic valve replacement.

For appointments or more information, call the Central Appointment Office at 800-446-2279 (toll-free) 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mountain Standard Time, Monday through Friday or complete an online appointment request form.

At Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, cardiovascular disease specialists and cardiovascular surgeons care for people undergoing transcatheter aortic valve replacement. Specialists in the Heart Valve Disease Clinic can help you understand your condition and your treatment options.

For appointments or more information, call Cardiovascular Diseases at 507-284-3994 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Central time, Monday through Friday or complete an online appointment request form. No physician referral is necessary. Cardiologists generally can see most patients within two weeks after their appointment requests, and often cardiologists can see patients within a week or less after the appointment request. Patients with urgent issues can usually be seen within 24 hours after their requests. In emergencies, people are directly transferred to inpatient hospital care.

See information on patient services at the three Mayo Clinic locations, including transportation options and lodging.

Mayo Clinic doctors and researchers continue to study transcatheter aortic valve replacement as part of cardiovascular research efforts. Researchers are focused on reducing complications through improved technology and a better understanding of which patients are best suited for this procedure.

Publications

See a list of publications by Mayo Clinic authors on transcatheter aortic valve replacement on PubMed, a service of the National Library of Medicine.

Jun. 06, 2013