Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) is a procedure to treat aortic stenosis, a narrowing of the aortic valve. The narrowing blocks the flow of blood out of the heart and to your body and forces your heart to work harder. This can cause symptoms such as chest pain and shortness of breath.
This procedure replaces an aortic valve that is not working properly or is diseased with an aortic valve made from animal tissue. The TAVR procedure is minimally invasive, requiring access via the femoral arteries. It does not require open-heart surgery.
Before TAVR, there are several test and evaluations that must be performed to make sure you are an appropriate candidate for TAVR. You may have a heart catheterization procedure, a transesophageal or thransthoracic echocardiogram, CT scans, and laboratory studies to gather information about you heart and the blood vessels needed to perform the procedure. You will be evaluated by a cardiothoracic surgeon to discuss the possibility of needing a surgical aortic valve replacement based on all of your clinical information. Your doctors will collaborate closely to decide which approach is best for you and discuss this with you in great detail.
During the TAVR procedure, your doctor will guide a thin, flexible tube called a catheter to your heart through blood vessels they can access from your groin. Inside the catheter is a folded replacement valve, which is placed securely within the old valve. Once your doctor is sure the new valve has been placed correctly, they will check for leaks and possible complications, such as a problem in the heart’s electrical signaling.
After a TAVR procedure, your hospital stay may be just a few days. You may be able to return to daily activities, such as exercising and driving, in just a few weeks.
However, as with any procedure involving the heart and blood vessels, TAVR carries some risks both during and after surgery, including Damage and bleeding where the catheters were inserted, Injury to the kidneys or the heart, Leaking in the new valve because it does not fit well, or stroke.
The need for a permanent pacemaker due to damage to the heart’s electrical signaling during the procedure. You may be asked to wear a heart monitor at home for a few weeks after the procedure to watch for changes in the electrical activity of your heart.
You may get medicine to prevent infection or abnormal blood clots. About a month after the procedure, your provider will do tests to check how well the valve is working and how well you are healing. You may need follow-up visits every year to make sure the valve continues working as it should.