Understanding Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR)

If you have been diagnosed with severe aortic valve stenosis, your doctor may recommend transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) as a surgical solution. This minimally invasive surgery restores blood flow out of the heart and into the body. It can help improve symptoms such as chest pain, heart failure, fainting, and irregular heart rhythms. 

TAVR surgery is typically recommended when open heart surgery — the more traditional treatment method — is too risky, due to your overall health status. The procedure is also sometimes called transcatheter aortic valve implantation, or TAVI.

Knowing What to Expect from TAVR at Dignity Health

TAVR is a complex procedure, requiring advanced equipment and a team of doctors from numerous specialties, including cardiology, cardiac surgery, and radiology. 

Your surgeon will access the aortic valve through an incision in a major artery in the groin or chest. A new valve is then implanted using a catheter — a thin, flexible instrument that is inserted into the artery and carefully guided up to the heart. The new valve is placed inside the old one, and takes over its function. 

There are several risks and potential complications of the TAVR procedure, including: 

In case of complications, your surgical team may need to convert the procedure to an open heart aortic valve replacement — also called surgical aortic valve replacement (SAVR). 

Recovering from TAVR

Compared with open heart surgery, recovery from TAVR takes less time because it is minimally invasive. Your doctors will want to observe you in the hospital for three to five days following surgery. 

Before being discharged, your doctor will provide you with detailed instructions on how to take any prescribed medications, care for your incision, and the types of activities to avoid. After you leave the hospital, Dignity Health’s heart care team remains available to answer any questions with respect and compassion, so you feel comfortable and confident in your recovery. 

Talk to your doctor today to learn more about TAVR and our other options for cardiovascular treatments.

Dignity Health offers advanced treatments and specialized care plans for the number one cause of death for men and women — heart disease