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Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR)

Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) surgery is a minimally invasive procedure in which a new heart valve is placed inside the diseased valve. Once the new valve is inserted, it is expanded and pushes the old valve leaflets out of the way. The replacement valve takes over the job of regulating blood flow.

Usually, valve replacement requires an open-heart procedure in which the chest is surgically opened. TAVR can be done through tiny openings that leave all the chest bones in place. This procedure is best for patients who cannot tolerate open-heart surgery.

The surgery is also called transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI).

Why choose Presbyterian for your transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR)?

Presbyterian Heart and Vascular Care is one of a select group of medical centers across the country—and one of the first sites in New Mexico—to offer this innovative procedure to patients who qualify. Presbyterian Heart and Vascular Care was selected to perform this new surgery due to Presbyterian Hospital's advanced facilities, our surgeons' vast experience in performing aortic valve replacement, and our multidisciplinary 'heart team' approach, which is required to select appropriate patients for this specialized procedure.

Who is eligible for a transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR)?

This procedure is available for people with aortic valve stenosis (or narrowing of the aortic valve) or severe symptomatic native aortic stenosis (AS) and who cannot tolerate open-heart surgery.

To determine whether TAVR is appropriate for you, you may be given a series of screenings and evaluations, including chest X-ray, CT scan, electrocardiogram (EKG), echocardiogram, and a transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE).

What conditions can be treated with a transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR)?

TAVR is used to treat aortic valve stenosis and severe native aortic valve stenosis (AS)

Aortic valve stenosis—or aortic stenosis—occurs when the heart's aortic valve thickens and calcifies, preventing the valve from opening fully. This limits blood flow from your heart to the rest of your body.

Aortic stenosis can cause chest pain, fainting, fatigue, leg swelling, and shortness of breath. It may also lead to heart failure and sudden cardiac death.

How do I prepare for a transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR)?

  • Ask your doctor which medications you should or should not take leading up to and on the day of your procedure.

  • Because oral bacteria can cause infection of the valve, it is important to visit your dentist prior to TAVR to make sure you are in good dental health.

  • You may stay in the hospital for a few days so make preparations.

  • You may be given a medication before your procedure to reduce the chance of infection.

What should I expect during my transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR)?

You will receive sedation or general anesthesia during the TAVR procedure. A treatment team member will give you medication through an IV to prevent blood clots.

TAVR is performed using one of two approaches:

  • Transfemoral approach: In this approach, a catheter is threaded through the femoral artery (large artery in the groin) to the diseased valve.

  • Transapical approach: This approach uses a small incision in the chest to thread a catheter through a large artery in the chest or through the left ventricle's tip (the apex) to the diseased valve.

Your doctor uses advanced imaging techniques to guide the catheter through your blood vessels, to your heart, and into your aortic valve. Once the new valve is positioned, a balloon on the catheter's tip is inflated to expand the replacement valve into the appropriate position. Some valves can expand without the use of a balloon. When the valve is securely in place, the catheter is removed.

You may spend the night in the intensive care unit for monitoring after your procedure. Generally, you'll spend about 2-5 days recovering in the hospital.

How do I care for myself after my transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR)?

You'll need regular follow-up appointments with your doctor after TAVR. Let your doctor know if you have any new or worsening signs or symptoms.

You may need to take certain medications after your procedure. For example, you'll need to take blood-thinning medications to prevent future blood clots.