Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR)

A less invasive treatment for severe aortic stenosis (AS)

What is Aortic Stenosis?

Aortic stenosis occurs when your aortic valve does not open properly. This causes your heart to work harder to pump blood throughout your body. It affects your health and limits your normal daily activities. AS may be caused by any of the following:

  • Age
  • Calcium buildup that narrows the aortic valve
  • Chest radiation
  • Infection of the heart
  • Rheumatic fever


What is Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR)?

Transcatheter aortic valve replacement is a less invasive option than open-heart surgery for people with severe AS. This procedure allows a new valve to be implanted using an artery that leads to the heart.

  • TAVR is recommended in low, intermediate and high risk patients
  • Because the heart valve is working properly after the procedure, patients usually experience improvement and feel better immediately.


What to Expect with TAVR

Preparing for TAVR

Your care team will give you specific instructions to prepare for your TAVR procedure. They will discuss with you how to prepare for the procedure and what to expect from the procedure. Talk with your care team about any questions or concerns you may have about the procedure.

SAPIEN 3 Valve in Valve Aortic Beauty Shot

Medtronic TAVR Valve

What to Expect

TAVR involves replacing your damaged aortic valve with one made from cow or pig heart tissue, also called a biological tissue valve. In some cases, a TAVR biological tissue valve may also be placed in an existing biological tissue valve that is no longer working in order to replace it.

Before the Procedure

You’ll be evaluated to ensure you don’t have any risk factors that may affect you during the TAVR procedure. You may be given a medication to reduce the risk of infection prior to your procedure. You may also need to have your hair shaved off at the location of your body where the procedure will take place.

Pre-TAVR Testing:

Prior to your procedure, testing may be performed to determine if TAVR is the best option for you. Testing is done on an outpatient basis and may include:

  • Computerized tomography (CT) scan: An imaging test that uses x-rays to obtain detailed pictures of your heart and blood vessels.
  • Pulmonary function test (PFT): A group of tests, using special breathing equipment, that will measure how well your lungs are moving oxygen to the blood.
  • Transthoracic echocardiogram (TTE): This diagnostic test (also known as an echo) uses ultrasound to obtain 3D images of the heart. While lying down on a table, a probe will be placed on your chest wall and will use sound waves to provide detailed pictures of your heart.

During the Procedure

Your TAVR procedure will be performed in the hospital. The cardiologists at Hattiesburg Clinic perform TAVR procedures at Forrest General Hospital. Forrest General Hospital participates in the national STS/ACC TVT registry which measures:

  1. Patient demographics, provider and facility characteristics
  2. History/risk factors, cardiac status and detailed health status
  3. Well-defined indications for the procedure
  4. Pre, intra and post procedure data points and adverse event rates
  5. Outcomes at 30 days and one year

You may receive general anesthesia before the TAVR procedure. A member of your care team will give you medication through an intravenous line to prevent blood clots.

Your care team will monitor your heart function and rhythm to watch for changes in heart function that may occur. Changes in function can be managed with treatments, as needed, during the procedure.

During TAVR, the transcatheter valve procedure can be performed via one of several potential access points:

  • Transfemoral: a small opening is made for a catheter in a large artery in the groin area at the top of the leg. The catheter is threaded through the leg artery, up the aorta around the arch and into the aortic valve for valve placement.
  • Transapical: a three to four inch opening is made in the chest wall, between the ribs on the left side. The catheter is inserted through the chest wall, the heart wall and directly into the aortic valve for valve replacement.
  • Transaortic: a two to three inch opening is made at the top of the breast bone. The catheter is inserted directly into the aorta and down into the aortic valve for valve placement.
  • Transaxillary: sometimes a transfemoral approach may not be possible and a transaxillary /subclavian route may be taken to access/replace the valve.

Once the catheter is inserted through the access point, your doctor will use advanced imaging techniques to guide the catheter through your blood vessels, to your heart and into the aortic valve.

A hollow tube (catheter) is inserted through the access point. Your doctor uses advanced imaging techniques to guide the catheter through your blood vessels, to your heart and into your aortic valve.

Once it’s precisely positioned, a balloon is expanded to press the replacement valve into place in the native aortic valve. Some valves can expand without the use of a balloon.

When your doctor is certain the valve is securely in place, the catheter is withdrawn from your blood vessel or from the incision in your chest.

After the Procedure

Following your procedure, hospital stay is based on access route when procedure is performed.

The route of the catheter insertion into the access point usually determines your length of stay in the hospital. Average length of stay is 2-7 days.

You’ll be required to take blood-thinning medications to prevent blood clots. Your doctor will discuss with you how long you may need to take these medications.

Your doctor will recommend that you take medications before certain dental procedures to prevent infections, as you’re at higher risk of certain infections with a replacement heart valve. Talk to your doctor about his or her recommendations.


TAVR can improve the lives of people with aortic stenosis who can’t have surgery or for whom surgery is too risky. In these people, TAVR can reduce the risk of death. TAVR may also relieve the signs and symptoms of aortic valve stenosis and improve overall health.

Some studies show that TAVR has similar mortality rates as heart valve surgery in people with aortic stenosis who have an intermediate or high risk of complications from open-heart surgery.

You may need to continue taking certain medications after your procedure. Take your medications as prescribed.

You’ll likely need regular follow-up appointments with your doctor. Let your doctor know if you have any new or worsening signs or symptoms.

Your doctor may recommend that you make healthy lifestyle changes, such as eating a heart-healthy diet, exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding smoking.

Video Resources

[Coronary & Valve Symposium] Live Case Session IV. TAVR

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