The aortic valve controls blood flow from the heart to the rest of the body. When the valve is narrowed (stenosis) or damaged, the heart has to work harder, which can lead to heart failure, heart attack, or other issues. Advanced stenosis can cause symptoms including fainting, chest pain, shortness of breath, and lung congestion, and may require valve replacement.
While aortic valve replacement is usually performed via a traditional open surgery, a procedure called TAVR (Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement) is a minimally invasive option for patients who are not candidates for open surgery due to age, frailty, or other medical conditions such as lung or kidney disease. In a large clinical trial called PARTNER, TAVR was shown to greatly reduce the risk of death in patients who formerly would have been considered too high-risk to undergo an open valve replacement surgery.
Physicians use a catheter to guide a replacement valve made of animal tissue and metal mesh through an artery to the location of the aortic valve. The replacement valve is expanded, pushing aside the old valve, and begins functioning right away, leading to improved blood flow.
Often these procedures are performed while the patient is awake under mild sedation helping to allow for a rapid recovery and early hospital discharge.
A specialized "heart team", including interventional cardiologists and cardiovascular surgeons, work together to help determine whether TAVR is an appropriate option for a given patient. Our interventional cardiologists and cardiovascular surgeons specialize in minimally invasive procedures like TAVR, and are experienced at working with patients with high-risk conditions. Temple is home to one of the region’s most sophisticated surgical suites, providing the resources needed to undertake complex cardiovascular procedures such as as transcavel TAVR. This is a new technique to deliver the transcatheter in patients who previously required partial surgery in the chest. This new technology often allows for patients to recover faster to renurn to every day activites.
Learn more about TAVR from Brian O'Neill, MD: