Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) is valve replacement without open-heart surgery. It is also called catheter-based or percutaneous (through the skin) aortic valve replacement.
This therapy may provide relief from the often debilitating symptoms associated with severe, symptomatic, native aortic valve stenosis.
At Intermountain Heart Institute, we have over eight years of experience with the TAVR procedure. In Utah, we were the first to perform TAVR and the only center to be involved in the procedure's research and development.
Who is Eligible?
Patients who may not be able to undergo traditional surgery because of factors such as age, history of heart disease, frailty, or other health issues are considered for TAVR.
Patients are evaluated by a team of cardiologists and heart surgeons, who determine whether this procedure is a good option. In certain cases, TAVR may not be appropriate because of co-existing medical conditions or other disease processes.
What Happens During the Procedure?
During TAVR, the replacement valve is inserted through a small cut in the thigh into an artery. Doctors use a tube-based delivery system (catheter) to navigate the valve to the heart. Then, the doctor expands the valve into place using a balloon located at the tip of the catheter. The image below shows the TAVR valve positioned on the balloon catheter across the patient's original (native) aortic valve.
Types of TAVR Valves
At our center we implant the following TAVR valves. Your physician will determine which valve is best for you:
- CoreValve transcatheter aortic heart valve: This valve is made of natural tissue obtained from the heart of a pig. The valve leaflets are secured to a flexible, self-expanding metal frame (nickel-titanium) for support.
- Edwards Sapien XT transcatheter heart valve: This valve is a biological valve (made from animal tissue) that replaces aortic valve.
TAVR is a significant procedure involving general anesthesia, and placement of the valve is associated with specific contraindications as well as serious adverse effects. These include risks of death, stroke, damage to the artery used for insertion of the valve, major bleeding, and other life-threatening and serious events. In addition, the longevity of the valves' function is not yet known.
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