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What is TAVR?

Posted on Feb. 3, 2016 ( comments)
Hand and heart

Have you heard of transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR)? It's an innovative new option to improve the quality of life for patients with aortic stenosis (a diseased aortic valve), who otherwise have limited treatment choices. The procedure has already helped many people feel better quickly and return to their normal lives with improved energy and stamina.

So how does TAVR work and what benefits does it offer?  

Minimally invasive heart surgery

TAVR, also called TAVI (transcathether aortic valve implantation), is less invasive than the standard valve replacement surgery, in which the chest is surgically opened to remove the aortic valve, and a heart-lung bypass machine is needed.

With TAVR, the surgeon uses a catheter to deliver a fully collapsible replacement valve. The new valve simply pushes the leaflets of the diseased valve aside and uses them to secure itself firmly into place.

The cardiologist or surgeon will choose one of three possible locations for inserting the catheter and accessing the aortic valve:

  • Through the femoral artery via a small incision in the groin
  • Through a large artery in the chest via a small incision in the chest
  • Through the tip of the left ventricle via a small incision between the ribs

The procedure usually takes about 3–4 hours and can sometimes be performed under sedation instead of general anesthetic. The average length of hospital stay is 4–5 days.

Benefits of TAVR

TAVR offers many benefits over conventional open-heart surgery. These typically include:

  • Less pain
  • Shorter procedure time
  • Shorter recovery time
  • Fewer risks

TAVR is currently recommended for patients who aren't good candidates for open-heart surgery due to risk factors such as advanced age, frailty and multiple related conditions. Ask your doctor about whether TAVR is a good option for you.

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