Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR)
TAVR is a minimally invasive procedure which allows the aortic valve to be replaced through a catheter approach rather than through a traditional open heart surgery.
First, a balloon valvuloplasty is performed. Balloon valvuloplasty involves a small incision typically made in the groin area. A catheter (thin, flexible tube) with a small, uninflated balloon attached to the tip is threaded through the opening into a blood vessel. Once the catheter reaches the damaged valve, the balloon is inflated to stretch the valve opening and allow more blood to flow through it. The balloon is then deflated and guided back through the vessel and removed.
A new catheter containing the heart valve is then reinserted into the blood vessel. The new heart valve is threaded through the blood vessels to the heart and into the damaged heart valve where it is released. The new heart valve will take the place of the damaged one allowing the blood to flow normally out of the heart and through the body.
This procedure is less invasive, offers a quicker recovery and a shorter hospital stay than conventional open heart surgery.
Conventional Open or Minimally Invasive Aortic Valve Replacement (AVR) Surgery
Open heart surgery to replace the diseased aortic valve has been around for many years and is a safe and effective treatment. Conventional AVR uses an open heart surgery procedure to allow the surgeons to replace the valve through the chest plate.
Newer minimally invasive procedures for aortic valve replacement are being used with patients including mini-sternotomy and mini-thoracotomy. These newer less invasive procedures for aortic valve replacement are designed to reduce the trauma to the body (sternum, rib cage) and accelerate patient recovery.
Balloon Aortic Valvuloplasty
Many patients with degenerative valve disease are ineligible for surgery or for TAVR because of their high-risk status (e.g., advanced age, multiple comorbidities or end-stage disease). For these patients, balloon valvuloplasty may help to improve symptoms of congestive heart failure.
In balloon valvuloplasty, a small catheter (thin, flexible tube) with a small, uninflated balloon attached to the tip is threaded through a blood vessel in the groin area. Once the catheter reaches the damaged valve, the balloon is inflated to stretch the valve opening and allow more blood to flow through it. The balloon is then deflated and guided back through the vessel and removed. The patient is generally awake during this procedure, and the recovery time is considerably shorter than with traditional surgery.
Balloon valvuloplasty can relieve the symptoms of valve disorders, but is not a permanent solution and may need to be repeated at a later date. In certain situations, some patients may not be candidates for surgery or TAVR due to a momentary decline in their heart functioning or overall health status. For these patients, balloon valvuloplasty may help improve symptoms of congestive heart failure and allow patient’s health status to improve so that they can eventually undergo surgery or TAVR.