Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) offers a minimally invasive alternative to open heart surgery in the treatment of aortic stenosis, a type of valvular heart disease in which the aortic valve is partially blocked, reducing blood flow. Physicians at the Washington University and Barnes-Jewish Heart & Vascular Center are among a large research collaborative that studied and developed TAVR, bringing this treatment option to thousands of people. Currently, TAVR is approved for people who are at high or intermediate risk for surgery.
Because TAVR requires only a small incision and is less invasive than traditional surgery, you are likely to experience an easier recovery with less pain and a shorter hospital stay. You’ll benefit from the highest-level expertise in the area, from your initial assessment through post-procedure follow-up.
TAVR: Why Choose Us?
People from across the country choose our Heart & Vascular Center for TAVR because our physicians are among the nation's most experienced and knowledgeable in performing this procedure.
We provide an outstanding combination of technology and technique:
- Technical expertise: As members of the PARTNER (Placement of AoRtic TraNscathetER Valves) Trial, which involved 23 North American research institutions in developing and testing the procedure, our physicians are among the pioneers of TAVR worldwide. Having been some of the first physicians to perform TAVR, refining it over the past decade and completing more than 800 procedures, we are the region’s most experienced TAVR team, able to assess your particular needs and perform the procedure with confidence.
- Personalized treatment: TAVR requires precise imaging technologies and specialized tools. We have the ability to thoroughly assess each patient and choose the best approach, including the proper size and type of replacement valve for your individual physiology. This results in a highly individualized treatment designed to offer you the best outcomes.
- Team approach: Our TAVR team offers you the combined knowledge and skills of cardiologists, interventional cardiologists, echocardiologists and cardiothoracic surgeons. These specialists confer together to review your history and diagnostic findings and evaluate if TAVR is the best treatment option for you.
What Is TAVR?
When the heart’s aortic valve is blocked or unable to open and close properly, blood flow is compromised, and a replacement valve may be needed. TAVR allows for valve replacement via a catheter instead of through open-heart surgery.
Using precise imaging technology, physicians thread a thin catheter through a blood vessel to the aorta. Once in position, it delivers an artificial aortic valve. The new valve is placed inside the damaged valve and expanded to restore correct function and proper blood flow. The new valve remains in place, continuing to function and providing you with relief from symptoms. Results from recent clinical trials involving selected intermediate and high risk patients show that TAVR increases their long-term survival.
Because the catheter requires only a small incision and the heart continues functioning throughout the procedure, compared to traditional procedures TAVR offers:
- Less anesthesia
- Less risk of infection
- Faster recovery
- Less pain
Aortic Stenosis Symptoms
Aortic stenosis may cause a number of symptoms, ranging from mild to severe. You may have aortic stenosis if you experience:
- Chest pain
- Feeling tightness in the chest
- Feeling short of breath, especially when active
- Unusual fatigue
- Heart palpitations
- Fainting or dizziness, especially when active
TAVR: What To Expect?
If you are diagnosed with aortic stenosis, the TAVR procedure is a minimally invasive option for intermediate and high risk patients.
Before the procedure
- The evaluation begins by having noninvasive testing completed at the Heart & Vascular Center.
- After all tests are complete, the cardiologist and surgeon will thoroughly review and discuss your results with you at your next appointment.
- During your appointment, the team will walk through questions with you to make sure the treatment decision has your best interest in mind, whether you are a candidate for TAVR or another procedure.
During the procedure
- A small incision, often in the leg near the groin, will be made to insert the catheter.
- The new valve is placed and your physicians will ensure it is working properly.
- The catheter is then removed. A few stitches and a sterile dressing are placed where the catheter was inserted. The entire procedure usually takes one to two hours.
After the procedure
You will be in the hospital for a few days and will receive pain medications and ongoing care and monitoring. Most people are able to sit up within a day, and your team will help you advance to standing and walking before you leave the hospital. When you are ready to go home, you will receive detailed discharge instructions regarding activity level, medication and follow-up appointments.
To make an appointment with a Washington University heart valve specialist at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, call 888.987.2807.