If you or someone you love has severe aortic stenosis, a relatively new procedure could offer an easier alternative to traditional aortic valve replacement. TAVR (transcatheter aortic valve replacement) is a minimally invasive procedure that repairs the aortic valve without replacing it.
The cardiac surgeons at Central Maine Healthcare have extensive experience with TAVR. You can trust us not only to stay on top of the latest advances in cardiac surgery, but to provide you with procedures that relieve your symptoms while getting you back to your life as soon as possible.
About Aortic Stenosis
Aortic stenosis is one of the most common and serious valve disease problems. The aorta is the main artery carrying blood out of the heart. When blood leaves your heart, it flows through the aortic valve, into the aorta. In aortic stenosis, the aortic valve does not open fully. This decreases blood flow from the heart. As the aortic valve becomes narrower, the left ventricle must increase pressure to pump blood out through the valve. To do this extra work, the muscles in the ventricle walls become thicker, which can lead to chest pain. As the pressure continues to rise, blood may back up into the lungs. Severe forms of aortic stenosis prevent enough blood from reaching the brain and the rest of the body.
Aortic stenosis may be present from birth (congenital), but it more commonly develops during aging as calcium or scarring damages the valve and restricts the amount of blood flowing through it.
Aortic Valve Repair or Replacement
When your aortic valve doesn’t work properly, having surgery to repair or replace it may reduce symptoms and lower your risk of potentially fatal complications. Aortic valve replacement – done either through an open chest procedure or minimally invasive surgery – offer you an opportunity to feel better and live longer. However, the least invasive type of procedure currently available is TAVR.
Benefits of TAVR
With traditional aortic valve replacement surgery, surgeons remove your valve and replace it with a mechanical aortic valve or an aortic valve from an animal. However, with TAVR, your surgeons insert a replacement valve into your own aortic valve without removing your damaged valve. Because the replacement valve is wedged into place, it is a less complicated procedure that can be done through a catheter inserted through an incision in your thigh, rather than through incisions in your chest.
TAVR offers a major advantage: With traditional valve replacement, your surgeons must stop your heart with medication and use a heart-lung machine to oxygenate and circulate your blood during surgery. But because TAVR is done via catheterization and does not require the removal of your existing heart valve, your surgeon can allow your heart to continue beating throughout the procedure. TAVR requires no heart stopping.
This makes aortic valve repair a viable option for more patients, especially those at high-risk, either due to age, history of heart disease, frailty or other health issues.
TAVR often provides immediate relief of debilitating symptoms and helps patients live longer, more active lives. It can also allow for quicker recovery than traditional aortic valve replacement surgery. Other benefits of TAVR may include:
- Improvement in common symptoms of aortic stenosis, such as shortness of breath, chest pain and fatigue
- Less pain
- Less blood loss
- Lower risk of cardiac and respiratory complications
- Fewer days in the ICU
- Shorter hospital stays
- Faster return to normal activities
Our heart and vascular services are available near where you live or work, so you can focus on your good health: