What is minimally-invasive transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR)?

Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), also known as transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI), is a minimally-invasive procedure used to treat aortic stenosis. Aortic stenosis is a heart condition that occurs when the aortic valve becomes narrowed and does not open properly to allow blood to flow.

The goals of TAVR are to improve survival rates for aortic stenosis patients who are not candidates for surgical valve replacement, as well as to relieve symptoms of the condition.

TAVR has given patients who in the past had no treatment options a chance for improved quality and length of life. Mercy Health cardiac specialists are on the cutting edge of this innovative procedure.

Who is a candidate for minimally-invasive transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR)?

Patients who have an intermediate to high risk for complications associated with surgical aortic valve replacement may be candidates for transcatheter aortic valve replacement. TAVR may also be appropriate for patients who are not candidates for open heart surgery because they have other medical conditions such as lung or kidney disease. Most patients who undergo TAVR are in their 70s and 80s.

TAVR is not appropriate for people who:

  • Have a mechanical valve
  • Are not able to take blood thinning medications 
  • Have reactions to metals or imaging solutions 
  • Have an infection 

Your Mercy Health cardiac team will evaluate your case and determine if you are a candidate for TAVR.

What to expect when having a minimally-invasive transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR)?

Cardiac specialists, including interventional cardiologists and cardiothoracic surgeons, work together to replace your damaged aortic valve. The team uses catheters that are inserted through small incisions in the groin or chest. During the procedure, your doctors will insert a replacement valve on top of the damaged valve. As the new valve is expanded, it pushes the old valve out of place and takes over the function of the old valve.

There are two different approaches to perform this procedure:

  • Transfemoral approach - entering the femoral artery (in the groin) and threading the catheter to the damaged valve
  • Transapical approach - approaching the damaged valve through a small incision in the chest through an artery in the chest or through the left ventricle

Your Mercy Health cardiac team will determine the approach that will be most effective for your case.

What are the benefits of minimally-invasive transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR)?

Many patients who undergo TAVR experience immediate symptom relief if the heart valve is working properly. Benefits of transcatheter aortic valve replacement include:

  • Shorter hospital stays (average three to five days in the hospital)
  • Faster recovery time 
  • Having more energy to perform day-to-day activities
  • Breathe normally
  • Less anxiety
  • Reduces risk of surgical complications 

What are risks of minimally-invasive transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR)?

Complications associated with transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) include: 

  • Severe bleeding
  • Stroke
  • Arrhythmias
  • Heart attack
  • Heart infection 
  • Kidney disease 

Recovery from minimally-invasive transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR)

The recovery period after a TAVR procedure is shorter than after open heart surgery. Patients feel relief as soon as 30 days after the procedure including:

  • Symptom relief
  • Improved heart function
  • Better able to take care of themselves
  • Return to day-to-day activities

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