For some patients in need of a heart-valve replacement, the standard approach of open-heart surgery is not an ideal option. This may be because of advanced age or other medical conditions that make open-heart surgery too high of a risk.
That’s where a procedure called transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) can help. TAVR does not require open-heart surgery, but still allows a new heart valve to take the place of an existing valve that has become too narrow to properly function.
“A standard valve replacement surgery is much more invasive than the TAVR procedure,” said Dr. Amanda Eilers, a Marshfield Clinic Health System cardiothoracic surgeon. “With TAVR, we use a catheter to carry a new valve through the blood vessels through the narrowed valve. The stent that houses the new valve then expands into place, and the new valve starts working right away.”
What to expect when undergoing TAVR
The TAVR procedure usually takes about an hour to complete. Eilers said while TAVR is less invasive than open heart surgery, it’s still a major procedure to undergo.
The end result is still a new aortic valve, so it’s a considerable operation even if it’s not open heart surgery,” Eilers said.
She added that in her experience performing the procedure, patients generally have low complication rates and are typically discharged from the hospital one or two days after the procedure.
“After the procedure we just want people to monitor the access location, usually via the groin blood vessel, not lift anything heavy for a few days, and then they should be able to get back to their normal activities fairly quickly,” Eilers said.
One patient’s experience with TAVR
See the personal story of how the TAVR procedure changed one patient’s life.
If you have questions about this procedure or your health in general, contact your provider.