Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) is a means of treating aortic stenosis in some patients.
Aortic stenosis (AS) is the calcification of the aortic heart valve. A calcified valve is stiff, so that it can't open completely. The smaller opening that results restricts the flow of blood through the heart, resulting in symptoms such as:
- Severe shortness of breath
- Tightness or pain in the chest
- Severe fatigue
- Difficulty exercising
- Racing or irregular heartbeat
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
Open-chest aortic valve replacement is the most common surgical treatment for AS. In this procedure, the calcified heart valve is replaced with a prosthetic valve.
Some patients are determined by their heart team to be a poor risk for open-chest surgery. For these patients, one available treatment is transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR).
In TAVR, the patient is placed under general anesthesia. Then a prosthetic valve is brought to the site of the aortic valve using a catheter, which is a kind of long cable (see illustration #1 below). The catheter is threaded through a small puncture wound into an artery in the groin or the arm.
When the end of the catheter reaches the calcified aortic valve, the physician inflates a balloon inside the artificial valve (illustration #2 below). This expands the valve so that it pushes aside the calcified aortic valve and fills the opening.
The prosthetic valve begins working immediately, taking over for the calcified valve. The physician now deflates the balloon and retracts the catheter, leaving the prosthetic valve in place (illustration #3 below).
Images provided by Edwards Lifesciences Corporation
Patients usually report significant improvement upon recovery, and are typically discharged within 48 hours.
For more information, view these TAVR videos.
To find out if you or a loved one could benefit from TAVR, or to arrange an appointment to discuss TAVR with a Hoffman Heart physician, call (860) 714-4820.