What you can expect
Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) involves replacing your damaged aortic valve with one made from cow or pig heart tissue, also called a biological tissue valve. In some cases, a TAVR biological tissue valve may also be placed in an existing biological tissue valve that is no longer working in order to replace it.
Before the procedure
You'll be evaluated to make sure you don't have any risk factors that may affect you during the TAVR procedure.
You may be given a medication to reduce the risk of infection prior to your procedure.
During the procedure
You may receive general anesthesia before the TAVR procedure. A treatment team member will give you medication through an intravenous line to prevent blood clots.
Your treatment team will monitor your heart function and rhythm, and watch for changes in heart function that may occur. Changes in function can be managed with treatments as needed during the procedure.
During TAVR, doctors may access your heart through a blood vessel in your leg. Alternatively, your doctors may conduct the procedure through a tiny incision in your chest, and access your heart through a large artery or through the tip of the bottom left chamber of your heart (left ventricle). Doctors may sometimes use other approaches to access your heart.
In TAVR, a hollow tube (catheter) is inserted through the access point. Your doctor uses advanced imaging techniques to guide the catheter through your blood vessels, to your heart and into your aortic valve.
Once it's precisely positioned, a balloon is expanded to press the replacement valve into place in the native aortic valve. Some valves can expand without the use of a balloon.
When your doctor is certain the valve is securely in place, the catheter is withdrawn from your blood vessel or from the incision in your chest.
After the procedure
You may spend the night in the intensive care unit for monitoring after your procedure. Generally you'll spend about two to five days recovering in the hospital.
You'll need to take blood-thinning medications to prevent blood clots after the procedure. Your doctor will discuss with you how long you may need to take these medications.
Your doctor will recommend that you take medications before certain dental procedures to prevent certain infections, as you're at higher risk of certain infections with a replacement heart valve. Talk to your doctor about his or her recommendations.