This minimally invasive procedure to replace a narrowed aortic valve is an alternative to open-heart valve surgery. Learn about the benefits and risks of TAVR.
Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) is a minimally invasive heart procedure to replace a thickened aortic valve that can't fully open (aortic valve stenosis). The aortic valve is located between the left lower heart chamber (left ventricle) and the body's main artery (aorta). If the valve doesn't open correctly, blood flow from the heart to the body is reduced.
TAVR can help restore blood flow and reduce the signs and symptoms of aortic valve stenosis — such as chest pain, shortness of breath, fainting and fatigue.
TAVR may be an option for people who are at risk of complications from surgical aortic valve replacement (open-heart surgery). The decision to treat aortic stenosis with TAVR is made after a discussion with a team of heart and heart surgery specialists, who work together to determine the best treatment option for you.
Transcatheter aortic valve replacement may also be called transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI).
Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) is a minimally invasive procedure to replace a narrowed aortic valve that fails to open properly (aortic valve stenosis). In this procedure, surgeons insert a catheter into the leg or chest and guide it to the heart. A replacement valve is inserted through the catheter and guided to the heart. A balloon is expanded to press the valve into place. Some TAVR valves are self-expanding.
Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) is a treatment for aortic valve stenosis. Aortic valve stenosis — or aortic stenosis — occurs when the heart's aortic valve thickens and becomes stiff (calcifies). As a result, the valve can't fully open and blood flow to the body is reduced.
TAVR is an alternative to open-heart aortic valve replacement surgery. People who have TAVR often have a shorter hospital stay than those who have surgical aortic valve replacement.
Your doctor may recommend TAVR if you have:
All surgeries and medical procedures come with some type of risk. Potential risks of transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) may include:
Studies have found that the risks of disabling stroke and death are similar among those who have TAVR and surgical aortic valve replacement.
The treatment team will provide instructions on how to prepare for transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR). Talk to your doctor if you have any questions about the procedure.
Talk to your doctor about:
Your treatment team may recommend that you bring several items to the hospital, including:
During your procedure, avoid wearing:
A specialist will insert an IV into your forearm or hand and may give you a medication called a sedative to help you relax. Medication to prevent blood clots may also be given through the IV. You may also receive medication to reduce the risk of infection.
Hair may be shaved off at the location on your body where the procedure will take place.
Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) involves replacing a damaged aortic valve with one made from cow or pig heart tissue (biological tissue valve). Sometimes, the biological tissue valve is placed into an existing biological tissue valve that is no longer working.
Unlike surgical aortic valve replacement, which requires a long incision down the chest (open-heart surgery), TAVR is done using smaller incisions and a thin, flexible tube (catheter) to reach the heart.
To perform TAVR, a doctor inserts a catheter into a blood vessel, usually in the groin or chest area, and guides it into the heart. Moving X-ray images or echocardiogram pictures help the doctor place the catheter into the correct position.
A replacement valve made of cow or pig tissue is passed through the hollow catheter and placed in the area of the aortic valve. A balloon on the catheter tip inflates to press the new valve into place. Some valves expand without the use of a balloon.
The doctor removes the catheter once the new valve is securely in place.
During the TAVR procedure, the treatment team will carefully monitor your vital signs, including blood pressure, heart rate and rhythm, and breathing.
You may spend the night in the intensive care unit (ICU) for monitoring after your procedure. How long you need to stay in the hospital after TAVR depends on many things. Some people who have TAVR go home the next day.
Before you leave the hospital, your treatment team will explain how to care for any incisions and how to watch for signs and symptoms of infection. Warning signs of infection include fever, increased pain, and redness, swelling, draining or oozing at the catheter site.
Several medications may be prescribed after TAVR, including:
Regular doctor's checkups and imaging tests are needed after TAVR to make sure the new valve is working properly. Let your doctor know if you have any new or worsening signs or symptoms, including:
Seek emergency medical help if you have:
Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) is done using a thin, flexible tube (catheter). The doctor inserts the catheter into a blood vessel, usually in the groin or chest area. Sometimes, other methods are used to access the heart.
Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) may relieve the signs and symptoms of aortic valve stenosis, which may help improve quality of life.
Following a heart-healthy lifestyle is important as you recover and to help prevent further heart problems. After TAVR: