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Srini Potluri, MDIn many cases, valve replacement surgery is the recommended treatment for severe aortic valve stenosis, which is a narrowing of the valve that causes it to not function like it should. Often, this involves a traditional operation using an incision in the chest to reach the heart and replace the valve.

However, some with aortic valve disease may have other factors that prevent them from undergoing open-heart surgery or that increase the risk involved in the operation. For those who need a new aortic valve but have these other factors, The Heart Hospital Baylor Plano offers a procedure to replace the valve without traditional surgery.

Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement

Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) is performed in the cardiac catheterization lab or hybrid operating room. During the procedure, physicians use catheters to guide the replacement valve from a small incision in the groin area up into the heart, similar to the way a stent is placed.

Physicians have imaging technology in the cath lab to help them guide the new valve to the right place in the heart. This depends on the valve type. Some we use balloons and some are like springs that open up when they are in place.

Benefits of TAVR

Because TAVR does not require open-heart surgery, the procedure usually offers some benefits over traditional valve replacement. Benefits may include:

  • Shorter hospital stay
  • Shorter recovery time
  • Less pain
  • Less scarring

“One of the main benefits of TAVR over traditional surgery is recovery,” said Srini Potluri, MD, medical director of the cardiac catheterization lab at The Heart Hospital Baylor Plano. “Because there is no major surgery involved, about two-thirds of our patients are able to go home the next day.”

Is TAVR an Option for You?

Currently, TAVR is approved by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) for those with severe aortic stenosis who are considered intermediate or high risk for traditional valve replacement surgery. Candidates for TAVR typically include those who:

  • Are advanced age
  • Are physically frail
  • Have other conditions that put them at high risk during surgery
  • Have been told they are inoperable
“The fact that it can be done in people who are physically frail or have other risks makes it an option where surgery wasn’t an option in the past,” said Srini​ P. Potluri, MD, medical director of the cardiac catheterization lab at The Heart Hospital Baylor Plano.

TAVR is not yet approved in those who are considered low risk for surgery or whose valve disease is not causing any symptoms. However, The Heart Hospital Baylor Plano is involved in several studies to investigate the possibility of expanding the use of TAVR to these groups.

The PARTNER 3 trial is studying the use of TAVR in those who have symptoms and are considered low risk for surgery. Through the Early TAVR trial, physicians are investigating the use of TAVR in those who have aortic valve disease​ but do not yet have symptoms. Additional trials are studying the use of TAVR in combination with other procedures in people who are high risk.

“In the future, TAVR could become the first option in most patients,” Dr. Potluri said. “Even now, if you look at centers like ours, our TAVR volumes are more than the surgical aortic valve replacement for people with isolated aortic valve replacement.”

Dedicated Heart Valve Care

Hear a real patient story and learn more about transcatheter aortic valve replacement offered at The Heart Hospital Baylor Plano.

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