Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR)
Experts at Baystate's Heart & Vascular Program offer the latest treatment options, including transcatheter aortic valve replacement, or TAVR, for patients with aortic valve disease.
TAVR is a heart procedure that makes it possible to perform heart-valve replacement on patients whose age or other health challenges would make an open-heart surgery risky.
Our experienced team includes cardiac surgeons, cardiologists, cardiac anesthesiologists, and radiologists.
How TAVR Works
We perform TAVR using general anesthesia. During the procedure, the doctor inserts a catheter (a very thin tube) into a blood vessel in your groin. A replacement valve is placed on a stent, advanced through the blood vessel and into the heart. Once it reaches the aortic valve, a tiny balloon is inflated, pushing the faulty valve against the aortic wall, making room for the new valve. (With the traditional open procedure, you actually take out the old valve and replace it with a new one.)
Our experts can also perform TAVR with a transthoracic approach, which means a small incision is made in the chest to access the aortic valve. This allows doctors to perform TAVR on patients who also have blood vessel diseases in the leg.
While some patients with aortic valve disease can be treated with medications, these medications cannot reverse damage to the heart valve. An open aortic valve replacement has been the standard of care for symptomatic, severe aortic valve stenosis for decades, but it is not an option for a growing number of patients deemed too high a risk for open-heart surgery, typically because of aortic calcification, underlying lung disease, or frailty.
Essentially, TAVR allows surgeons to treat a very high risk group of patients who would otherwise not be candidates for surgery, making them "operable" by using a technique with less risk.
TAVR has many benefits, including a quicker recovery and better outcomes compared to medical therapy alone. At our Davis Family Heart & Vascular Center, we have had superior results with TAVR.
What is Aortic Stenosis?
Aortic stenosis affects an estimated 1.5 million Americans and is the most commonly diagnosed heart valve condition. When blood leaves the heart, it flows through the aortic valve into the aorta, the main artery carrying blood out of the heart.
In patients with aortic stenosis, the aortic valve does not open fully, which decreases blood flow from the heart and can lead to shortness of breath, dizziness, chest pain, and in some cases, sudden death.