Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR)
At St. Joseph Health, our heart specialists provide treatments that reduce
the stress and anxiety that comes with cardiovascular procedures.
These low-risk procedures, such as the Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement,
are provided by our teams of cardiologists, heart surgeons and specialists
with expertise in valve disease.
What Is Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR)?
Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) is a minimally invasive surgical
procedure used to replace a diseased and restricting aortic valve with
a new valve.
TAVR is used as a means to eliminate aortic stenosis. As your heart pumps
blood throughout your body, the aortic valve helps regulate the flow.
When someone is suffering from aortic stenosis, the leaflets of the valve
calcify and thicken. The expanding leaflets restrict blood flow, forcing
the heart to work harder and exhaust itself.
Unlike open heart surgery, which requires opening the sternum and stopping
the heart, TAVR works by replacing the existing aortic valve via a small
incision in the groin (transfemoral procedure) or chest (transapical procedure).
Because TAVR is a minimally invasive and low-risk procedure, it’s
the most viable option available for those who cannot forego the risks
of open-heart surgery.
Due to the laparoscopic nature of the procedure, TAVR allows for minimal
blood loss and smaller chance of infection at the incision site, resulting
in faster recovery times and shorter hospital stays. TAVR helps improve
the symptoms related to aortic stenosis and immediately helps improve
patients’ quality of life.
What Can I Expect?
As with many surgical procedures, you will receive general anesthesia through
an IV before undergoing your TAVR procedure. Your team of cardiovascular
surgeons and heart specialists will ensure that the procedure is performed
under the most suitable and comfortable conditions, monitoring your heart
function, rhythm and health throughout the 1 to 2-hour procedure.
During the procedure, a small incision is made near the hip, allowing access
to the femoral artery, which leads up to the heart. A catheter is inserted
and, using imaging technology, is guided through the femoral artery and
into the left ventricle of the heart, where the aortic valve is located.
Using a tiny balloon, the catheter inserted during surgery expands at the
site of the aortic valve, moving the restricting leaflets from the passageway
and unconstricting the flow of blood from the heart.
Once the valve opening has been expanded and the leaflets pushed aside,
the catheter guides a second balloon to the valve site. The balloon contains
a collapsible replacement valve attached to the end.
After the new collapsible replacement valve is in place, the balloon is
inflated, expanding the valve and securing it in place. The new valve
takes over and begins working to regulate your blood flow immediately.
What Are the Possible Complications and Side Effects?
As with any procedure, some complications and side effects may arise. For
a TAVR procedure, there are possible risks for:
- Infection of the incision
- Damaged blood vessels
- Valve complications such as leaking or misplacement
- Heart attack or stroke
- Heart damage
You can rest easy knowing your cardiovascular surgeons at Providence St.
Joseph Health are using the latest in cardiovascular technology and surgical
equipment to guide their practice and reduce the risk of complications
during your procedure.