What is TAVR?
This minimally invasive surgical procedure repairs the valve without removing the old, damaged valve. Instead, it wedges a replacement valve into the aortic valve’s place. The surgery may be called a transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) or transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI).
TAVR offers a minimally invasive valve replacement option for people with severe aortic stenosis and for patients with failing previous surgical tissue aortic valve replacements.
Severe aortic stenosis is a condition in which the aortic valve does not fully open, decreasing blood flow from the heart to the body. It's often unpreventable.Many people with severe aortic stenosis often develop debilitating symptoms that can restrict normal daily activities.
For many years, treatment options for severe heart valve condition were limited to open heart surgery and medical therapy.
Now, TAVR offers a less invasive approach for people who are at increased surgical risk or have been turned down for traditional aortic valve replacement because of age or other medical conditions.
How does TAVR work?
The TAVR procedure is performed through a small puncture in the leg, shoulder or neck to access a main artery then fishes a catheter through the aorta to insert a compacted replacement valve within the damaged aortic valve. Once the replacement is in position, it is expanded to fit the heart opening. Imaging technology assures the valve is working properly before the procedure is concluded. Because TAVR is a minimally invasive procedure, recovery times are often dramatically shorter than those for a traditional heart valve replacement patient. Compared to a typical five-day hospital recovery for open heart surgery patients, a TAVR patient may be discharged within two days, often with no limitations.
What are the advantages of TAVR?
Since many people with severe aortic stenosis are at increased surgical risk and have considerable mortality in the short term, TAVR may provide a treatment pathway that would otherwise be unavailable.
- Is a less invasive procedure that surgeons perform while the heart beats.
- Does not involve open-heart surgery or require the need for a heart-lung bypass machine.
- May result in a faster, milder recovery.
What are the risks of TAVR?
TAVR is a significant procedure that involves anesthesia.
Placement of the valve may have serious adverse effects, including risks of:
- Damage to the artery used for insertion of the valve
- Major bleeding
- Other serious life-threatening events or even death
How is TAVR or TAVI different from the standard valve replacement?
This procedure is fairly new and is FDA approved 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.
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 80 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.
UPMC's Heart & Vascular Institute performs a range of cardiothoracic surgeries including TAVR in Williamsport, Wellsboro, and the surrounding areas of PA.