Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR)

What is TAVR?

Transcatheter aortic valve replacement, or TAVR, is a minimally-invasive surgical procedure which repairs the valve without removing the old, damaged valve. Instead, a replacement valve is wedged into the aortic valve’s place.

How does TAVR work?

Somewhat similar to a stent placed in an artery, the TAVR approach delivers a fully collapsible replacement valve to the valve site through a catheter. Once the new valve is expanded, it pushes the old valve leaflets out of the way and the tissue in the replacement valve takes over the job of regulating blood flow.

This procedure is fairly new and is FDA approved for people with symptomatic aortic stenosis who are considered either intermediate- or high-risk patients with severe aortic stenosis for standard valve replacement surgery. The differences in the two procedures are significant.

A TAVR procedure is not without risks, but it provides beneficial treatment options to people who may not have been candidates for them a few years ago, while also providing the added bonus of a faster recovery in most cases. Most patients will likely require a shorter hospital stay.

Who is a good candidate for this type of valve surgery?

At this time, the procedure is reserved for those people for whom an open heart procedure is too risky. For that reason, most people who have this procedure are in their 70’s or 80’s and often have other medical conditions which make them a better candidate for this type of surgery.

TAVR can be an effective option to improve quality of life in patients who otherwise have limited choices for repair of their aortic valve.

The TAVR valve can be considered for intermediate- and high-risk patients with severe aortic stenosis. About one-third of patients referred for open-heart surgery for aortic valve replacement fall into the “intermediate risk” category, which is a greater than 3 percent risk of dying within 30 days following surgery.

The Benefits of TAVR

TAVR is a minimally invasive procedure available for certain heart patients. It can be a much safer alternative to open-heart surgery, with benefits which include:

  • Quicker recovery times
  • Significantly less pain and discomfort
  • A lifesaving option for high-risk patients

TAVR with Saint Francis Healthcare System

Saint Francis Healthcare System performs better than the national average in two key statistics.

  • The average length of stay in our facility is 2.0 days (national average is 2.8 days).
  • In addition, the mortality rate in our facility is 0 (national average is 1.8).