Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement
Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) is a minimally invasive surgical procedure that treats aortic valve stenosis. The procedure replaces the aortic valve and allows oxygen-rich blood to flow through your heart. The TAVR procedure is now the most commonly performed aortic valve replacement procedure, replacing open-heart surgery. This allows for faster recovery time, shorter hospital stay, and more favorable outcomes.
What Is Aortic Valve Stenosis?
The heart is a large muscle divided into two chambers called the atria, and two chambers called the ventricles. The atria sit on top of the ventricles and are connected by one-way valves. The left ventricle is responsible for pumping out blood carrying oxygen to the rest of the body, supplying important organs, like your brain. The left ventricle must pump the blood through a valve called the aortic valve in order for the blood to reach a large artery, the aorta, and make its way to the rest of the body.
Aortic stenosis (AS) is the stiffening of the aortic valve. As people age, calcium can build up, causing the valve to narrow, and the heart must work harder to push blood through this small opening. This can cause symptoms like tiredness, shortness of breath, dizziness, and chest pain or tightness. This disease can progress quickly once symptoms begin.
Treatment for Aortic Valve Stenosis
Previously, the only option we had to replace a narrowed aortic valve was through open surgery. TAVR is a newer approach that allows a new aortic valve to be inserted over the old valve. The TAVR valve is inserted via a catheter, or small tube, through a small incision usually made in the groin. The doctor can also insert the new TAVR valve through a small incision in the chest or neck in some patients. The new TAVR valve is guided along the catheter to the old aortic valve using X-rays and contrast and is then positioned in place. The procedure usually takes about two to three hours. Some patients will only need some sedating medications during the procedure. Others will require general anesthesia. The doctors will decide this with your input, based on various factors.