While open-chest surgery to replace the aortic valve is the gold standard treatment for severe symptomatic aortic stenosis, there are some patients who are not eligible for surgery or considered at high risk for surgery. These patients may be candidates for TAVR, which allows our University of Minnesota Physicians specialists to replace a diseased aortic heart valve without open-chest surgery.
TAVR enables the placement of a balloon-expandable heart valve into the body with a tube-based delivery system called a catheter. This tube-based system allows the valve to be inserted through an incision in the leg and into an artery (transfemoral procedure), or through an incision between the ribs and then through the bottom end of the heart called the apex (transapical procedure). The transapical procedure is only available to certain high-risk patients who are not candidates for the transfemoral procedure because they do not have appropriate access through their leg artery.
Our team will conduct a comprehensive evaluation to determine whether the TAVR procedure is an appropriate option for patients. In certain cases, TAVR may not be an option because of co-existing medical conditions or disease processes that would prevent the patient from experiencing the expected treatment benefit or because the risks outweigh the benefits. For those who are candidates for TAVR, this therapy may provide relief from the often debilitating symptoms associated with severe symptomatic native aortic valve stenosis.
Patients usually enjoy immediate benefit from the procedure in terms of improved blood circulation. Because the replacement valve is placed using minimally invasive techniques, patients usually experience a much more rapid recovery than they would from a traditional, open-heart valve replacement.