What is TAVR / TAVI?
It is a minimally invasive surgical procedure which repairs the valve without removing the old or damaged valve. It wedges a replacement valve into the aortic valve’s place. This surgery is called a Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) or Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation (TAVI).
How does “Valve-within-valve” work?
The TAVR procedure delivers a fully collapsible replacement valve to the valve site through a catheter. Once the new valve is expanded, it pushes the old valve leaflets out of the way and the tissue in the replacement valve takes over the job of regulating blood flow.
How does TAVR or TAVI differ from the standard valve replacement?
This is a new procedure approved by FDA, for people with symptomatic aortic stenosis or high risk patient for standard valve replacement surgery. The differences in the two procedures are significant.
What is involved in a TAVR procedure?
An open heart procedure with a sternotomy is required for valve replacement, in which the chest is surgically separated for the procedure. The TAVR or TAVI procedures can be done through very small openings that leave all the chest bones in place.
Risk is involved in TAVR procedure, but it provides beneficial treatment options to people who may not have been candidates for them a few years ago with a faster recovery in most cases.
TAVR procedure can be compared to a balloon treatment or an angiogram in terms of downtime and recovery and requires a shorter hospital stay (3-5 days).
The TAVR procedure is performed using one of two different approaches, allowing the cardiologist or surgeon to choose which one provides the best and safest way to access the valve:
- Entering through the femoral artery (large artery in the groin) called the trans-femoral approach, which does not require a surgical incision in the chest
- Using a minimally invasive surgical approach with a small incision in the chest and entering through a large artery in the chest or through the tip of the left ventricle (the apex) which is known as the transapical approach.
How to access if you are ready for valve surgery?
This procedure is recommended for patients possessing high risk for an open heart procedure. For that reason, most people who have this procedure are in the age group 70’s or 80’s and often have other medical conditions that make them a better candidate for this type of surgery.
TAVR is an effective option to improve quality of life in patients who otherwise have limited choices for repair of their aortic valve.