Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR)

The heart specialists at SSM Health Saint Louis University HospitalSSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital - Madison, and SSM Health St. Anthony Hospital - Oklahoma City have a new option for patients with aortic valve stenosis. Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement, commonly referred to as TAVR, is a proven, minimally invasive surgical option for patients who’ve been diagnosed with moderate or severe aortic stenosis to replace their diseased aortic heart valve.
Unlike traditional open chest surgeries to replace a heart valve, TAVR requires only a 3-4 inch incision in the leg or chest wall. This procedure enables the placement of a balloon-expandable heart valve into the body with a tube-based delivery system (catheter). There are three approaches:

  1. Transfemoral – the catheter is inserted in the groin area
  2. Transapical – the catheter is inserted through the bottom of the heart
  3. Transaortic – the catheter is inserted through the top of the aorta

Once inserted, the new TAVR valve is designed to replace the calcified aortic valve. Most patients will leave the hospital within a few days and can resume all normal activities shortly after.

About Aortic Stenosis

Aortic stenosis refers to a condition where the aortic valve inside the heart does not open fully, reducing the amount of blood flow through the heart and to the body. This puts added stress on your heart as it works harder to pump blood through the damaged valve. Patients with moderate or severe aortic stenosis have advanced stages of this condition and may notice symptoms such as chest pain, fatigue, shortness of breath, lightheadedness, and sometimes fainting.

Who is Eligible for TAVR?

TAVR is suitable for patients with moderate or severe aortic stenosis. It is particularly effective for patients who are considered either high-risk or too sick for open heart surgery.

Benefits of the Procedure

As a minimally invasive procedure, TAVR has a few distinct advantages over traditional, open heart valve surgery, including:

  • Eligibility. TAVR is a good option for patients who are not eligible for traditional, open heart surgery for any reason. TAVR offers patients with higher risks an option to restore their quality of life that they did not have before.
  • Less time in the hospital. Surgery time is one hour. Most patients will leave the hospital within a few days and can resume all normal activities shortly after.
  • Shorter recovery times. Patients generally experience a quicker return to full activity with much less postoperative discomfort.

For the millions of patients with aortic valve stenosis, TAVR has proven to not only improve quality of life, but significantly prolong one’s life following the procedure. Contact a heart and vascular specialist at Saint Louis University Hospital or SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital - Madison to learn more about the procedure and whether it might be right for you.

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