What is Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement?
Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement is a relatively new 'minimally invasive' procedure that allows the valves in the heart to be replaced without the need for open heart surgery ('sternotomy'). The procedure is also often referred to by the abbreviation 'TAVR' but the terms Percutaneous Aortic Valve Replacement (PAVR) and Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation (TAVI) both describe the same thing.
What does TAVR treat?
TAVR is a treatment for aortic stenosis. Aortic stenosis is where a heart valve does not open fully and so reduces blood flow through the heart and into the body.
What is involved in a TAVR?
A TAVR procedure involves the insertion of a catheter into the body, generally via a blood vessel in the groin (although other entry points are sometimes used). The catheter is fed through until its tip is located near the aortic valve.
Instead of removing the existing valve, a replacement valve is inserted into the existing damaged valve and expanded, which corrects blood flow through the valve. It is a similar process to inserting a stent in an artery.
The procedure itself can be conducted under a light sedation or general anaesthesia and normally takes 1-2 hours. Afterwards you will need to stay in hospital for 1 to 7 days.
Full recovery generally takes around 2 months and you will be given instructions concerning diet, exercise and medications.
How do I prepare for the procedure?
You will need to avoid eating or drinking for 6 hours before the procedure and may need to stop taking certain medications as well (your doctor will let you know if this is the case).