What is a Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) Procedure?
A transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) is a minimally invasive heart procedure that treats aortic stenosis in high-risk patients. It’s a heart procedure that makes it possible to replace heart valves in people whose health or scarring from previous surgeries would make open heart surgery risky.
This groundbreaking surgery is available from the cardiovascular experts at Baystate Health. Our team of cardiac surgeons, cardiologists, cardiac anesthesiologists, and radiologists are known for delivering top-quality heart care in western Massachusetts.
Minimally Invasive Treatment for Valve Disease
When one of your heart valves thickens or fuses with other tissue, it can’t open all the way. This is called aortic stenosis. Stenosis makes it hard for blood to flow, which can cause shortness of breath, dizziness, and in some cases sudden death. Aortic stenosis is a type of valve disease.
An open heart aortic valve replacement is the typical treatment for severe aortic valve stenosis, but it is not an option for people who are at risk for serious complications due to aortic calcification, lung disease, or frailty. Medication can help, but it cannot correct the problem or reverse damage in your valves.
TAVR allows surgeons to treat aortic stenosis in high-risk patients who would otherwise not be candidates for surgery.
What Happens During TAVR Surgery
During the procedure, you get general anesthesia. Your surgeon inserts a very thin tube (catheter) into a blood vessel in your groin. A replacement valve is placed on a stent at the end of the catheter. Then the surgeon guides the catheter through the blood vessel and into your heart.
Once the catheter reaches the aortic valve, a tiny balloon is inflated. This pushes your old valve against the aortic wall, making room for the new valve. With the traditional open heart surgery, the surgeon removes your old valve. With TAVR, the new valve takes the place of the old one.
The Benefits of TAVR
TAVR is a minimally invasive surgery. Surgeons perform TAVR through a blood vessel in your groin or chest, which makes opening your chest unnecessary.
This means a faster, safer recovery. TAVR also has better results compared to medical therapy alone.
How Long Does it Take to Recover from TAVR?
Patients typically recover faster from TAVR than from open heart surgery. Talk with your doctor about what to expect during recovery and ask what specific instructions they will have for you for diet, exercise, and any activities to avoid.