Overview and Facts about Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR/TAVI)
Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) is a type of cardiac/aortic surgery used to treat aortic stenosis (AS), which is a condition that causes heart valves to narrow or not open properly. This procedure is also known as transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI). Doctors use these two terms interchangeably.
TAVR or TAVI procedures replace a faulty valve to help boost blood flow from the heart. During this minimally invasive procedure, your surgeon inserts a new valve into your heart through a catheter (a thin, flexible tube) threaded through an artery in your leg.
Sometimes called a percutaneous valve replacement, TAVR is an alternative to traditional open heart surgery for patients who have severe heart valve disease and need one or more new aortic valves. Loyola was the first hospital in Illinois to implant the new aortic heart valve device.
What to Expect
What to Expect during Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR/TAVI)
If you have been diagnosed with an aortic heart valve condition that requires TAVR, specialized surgeons at Loyola will implant the prosthetic aortic valve, which is designed to be inserted in a small, specialized delivery tube.
TAVR occurs inside a hospital. First, your medical team administers a sedative or anesthetic. This medication helps you sleep through the procedure. The team may also give you medication to prevent blood clots.
During the TAVR procedure, the delivery catheter containing the valve is inserted into an introducing sheath, which is in turn placed into your groin vessels or directly into your ascending aorta through a small one-inch incision. A small balloon is positioned across the diseased aortic valve and inflated to make room for the new valve.
An interventional cardiologist and a cardiac surgeon then place the mechanical heart valve directly over the diseased aortic valve. When the core valve is in the proper place, a control knob in the delivery catheter is activated, releasing it. The core valve expands within the aorta, firmly attaching itself to the aortic wall. Once the new valve is secured, doctors remove the delivery catheter and the new valve takes over the function of the old aortic valve.
The prosthetic valve helps ensure that the oxygen-rich blood flows freely from your heart to your aorta and throughout the rest of your body.
After your procedure, you may spend two to five days in the hospital. Your medical team watches you closely during this time. You may receive several medications, including blood thinners. Many TAVR patients continue to take these medications for the rest of their lives.
TAVR is a minimally invasive procedure, so it can be a good fit for patients who can't undergo open heart surgery. It can also be a safer option for some patients who are at high risk for surgical complications.
What are the Risks of a Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR/TAVI)?
TAVR procedures reduce your risk of life-threatening heart problems. However, all surgery carries some risks. This procedure may cause:
- Blood clots
- Heart attack
- Heart or blood vessel injury
- High blood pressure
- Kidney dysfunction
- Low blood pressure
- Reaction to anesthesia
Keep in mind that untreated AS can also be fatal. If your doctor recommends TAVR, they are confident that the benefits of the surgery outweigh the risks.
What are the Side Effects of Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR/TAVI)?
People with an artificial valve may be at a higher risk of heart infections. Your doctor can explain what you can do to reduce your risk of infection. In some cases, you may need to take antibiotics to treat or prevent infection.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is important for patients with heart problems. You can reduce your risk of surgical side effects by:
- Avoiding alcohol and tobacco
- Eating a heart-healthy diet
- Exercising regularly
- Maintaining a healthy weight