Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) is a newer, minimally invasive procedure that is changing the lives of patients with severe aortic stenosis. Unlike surgical aortic valve replacement, TAVR is performed through a catheter, providing an effective option for people for whom traditional open-heart surgery carries too much risk.
What Is TAVR?
TAVR is a procedure used to replace a narrowed aortic valve in the heart, a condition called aortic stenosis. Similar to how stent procedures are used to unblock arteries, TAVR is performed with a catheter that is usually inserted through the groin. The catheter is used to reach the heart and replace the narrowed valve with a new valve, allowing it to open properly again.
This minimally invasive procedure does not require open-heart surgery or a heart-lung bypass machine to perform. It provides an alternative treatment for patients with an intermediate to high risk of complications from surgical aortic valve replacement.
What Conditions Are Treated With TAVR?
TAVR is used to treat aortic stenosis, which is a condition where blood flow from the heart is obstructed by the narrowing of the aortic valve. This reduced blood flow makes the heart work harder, causing a number of symptoms like shortness of breath, chest pain, irregular heartbeat, heart palpitations, heart murmur and extreme fatigue. Aortic stenosis is a serious valve disease that can lead to arrhythmias, blood clots, stroke and heart failure. Unfortunately, it is one of the most common heart valve problems that we see.
How Is The TAVR Procedure Performed?
During a TAVR procedure, the surgeon typically accesses the heart through the femoral artery in the groin. Although, other options include entering through an artery in the chest or through the bottom of the left ventricle. Using advanced imaging techniques to monitor the procedure, the catheter is used to guide a collapsible valve to the aortic valve. Once the new valve is placed inside the existing valve, the implant is expanded with a balloon and pushed into place. The catheter is then removed. Heart rate and other vital signs are monitored closely throughout the procedure.
What Are The Risks Of TAVR?
All medical procedures carry some risk. Although minimally invasive and FDA-approved, the risks with TAVR include:
- Valve leaks
- Blood vessel damage
- Heart attack
- Kidney disease
What To Expect Before & After TAVR
You will be given instructions to prepare for your TAVR procedure, which will include when or if to take medications, how long before the procedure you should stop eating and drinking, and what to expect during the procedure. You will spend two to five days in the hospital following the procedure, and blood-thinning medication will be required for a period determined by your doctor.
Although it can take a few weeks to recover, many people find immediate relief from symptoms of aortic stenosis. You can expect to have regular checkups with your doctor following the TAVR procedure, and you should take all medications as prescribed.
To schedule an appointment with an Advanced Cardiovascular Specialists physician, please call our office at (318) 798-9400.