Trans Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR)
What is Trans Aortic Valve Replacement?
Trans Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR), also known as transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), is a minimally invasive procedure designed to treat aortic valve stenosis—a condition characterized by the narrowing of the aortic valve opening. Aortic valve stenosis can restrict blood flow from the heart to the rest of the body, causing symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, and fatigue.
During Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), an artificial valve is delivered through a catheter inserted into the artery. The new valve is mounted within the diseased aortic valve. This allows blood to flow efficiently again and relieves symptoms. TAVR does not require cutting through the breastbone like traditional valve replacement surgery.
TAVR may be done through the femoral artery in the leg or directly through an incision in the chest. Patients usually recover faster with TAVR compared to open surgery.
Risks & Benefits of TAVR
Trans Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) is a medical breakthrough that offers hope to individuals suffering from aortic valve stenosis. As with any medical procedure, TAVR comes with benefits and risks. It's important to understand that the benefits of TAVR often outweigh the associated risks for many patients, making it a compelling treatment option.
Benefits of TAVR
- Life-Changing Improvement
For individuals living with severe aortic valve stenosis, the symptoms can be debilitating and significantly impact their quality of life. TAVR provides the chance for a remarkable transformation, offering relief from symptoms like fatigue, chest pain, and shortness of breath.
- Less Invasive Approach
TAVR is a minimally invasive procedure compared to traditional open-heart surgery. The smaller incision required for TAVR reduces trauma to the chest, results in less pain, and speeds up recovery. Patients can often leave the hospital sooner and return to their daily activities more quickly.
- Expanded Eligibility
TAVR is particularly beneficial for individuals who may not be suitable candidates for open-heart surgery due to age or other health issues. It extends the treatment option to a broader range of patients who might otherwise face limited choices.
- Reduced Surgical Risks
TAVR carries lower surgical risks compared to traditional surgery, making it an attractive choice for those at higher surgical risk. This consideration is especially crucial for older individuals and those with multiple medical conditions.
- Enhanced Quality of Life
TAVR enables patients to regain an active and fulfilling life by restoring proper valve function and alleviating symptoms. Enjoying everyday activities without the constraints of aortic valve stenosis can be a life-changing experience.
Risks of TAVR
- Vascular Complications
The insertion of catheters into blood vessels can sometimes lead to bleeding, damage to blood vessels, or the formation of blood clots.
The manipulation of catheters and the positioning of the new valve can carry a small risk of causing a stroke.
- Valve Leak
While uncommon, a new valve may not fit perfectly, leading to a leak around the valve. This can sometimes require additional procedures to address.
- Heart Rhythm Irregularities
TAVR can occasionally cause heart rhythm abnormalities, requiring additional treatment.
As with any surgical procedure, there is a risk of infection at the incision site.
- Kidney Issues
Some patients may experience kidney problems due to the contrast dye used during the procedure.
What to Expect Before, During, and After Trans Aortic Valve Replacement
Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) tests are done to visualize your anatomy and determine candidacy. A cardiothoracic surgeon and interventional cardiologist will assess your case. The procedure takes 1-2 hours. You are awake but sedated. The artificial valve is guided to your heart via a catheter through an artery and deployed within the diseased native valve. You will be monitored in the hospital for 2-5 days. Your valve function will be checked. Discharge instructions will cover medication and lifestyle needs.
The recovery time for TAVR is faster than open-heart surgery. You should be able to resume normal activity within a week or two. Most patients experience significantly improved heart function and relief of symptoms. Here are some additional things to keep in mind:
- You will be monitored for bleeding, infection, and other complications and may be prescribed antibiotics to prevent infection.
- You may need to take blood thinners to prevent blood clots.
- You will gradually resume your normal activities over the next few weeks.
- You should be able to return to work and other activities within a few weeks or months.
Am I a Candidate for Trans Aortic Valve Replacement?
Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) is a safe and effective option for many patients, but only some are good candidates for the procedure. If you are unsure whether you are a candidate for TAVR, talk to your cardiovascular specialist. They can help you assess your eligibility and discuss the risks and benefits of the procedure with you. Here are some factors that may affect your eligibility for TAVR:
- Severity of aortic valve stenosis
TAVR is typically recommended for patients with severe aortic valve stenosis who have symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, or fatigue.
- Age and overall health
TAVR is often considered for older adults who may not be good candidates for open-heart surgery due to age or other health conditions. However, age is one of many factors considered when determining TAVR eligibility. Your overall health and medical history will also be taken into account.
- Surgical risk
TAVR may be a better option for patients at high risk for complications from open-heart surgery. Your doctor will assess your surgical risk based on factors such as your age, other health conditions, and the results of your medical tests.
- Anatomy of the aorta and heart
The anatomy of your aorta and heart will be evaluated to ensure that TAVR can be performed safely and effectively. This assessment may involve imaging tests such as an echocardiogram or CT scan.
- Lifestyle and preferences
Your lifestyle, activity level, and personal preferences will also be considered when determining your eligibility for TAVR. It is essential to talk with your doctor about your goals and expectations.