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Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR)

What is TAVR? What condition(s) does it treat?

A transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) is used to treat patients who have aortic stenosis (AS), which occurs when there is a narrowing in the opening of the aortic heart valve. This condition forces the heart to work harder and can disrupt the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the body, which puts patients at risk for heart failure and sudden cardiac death.

AS can cause chest pain, shortness of breath, leg swelling and fatigue and is typically treated with open-heart surgery, which involves cutting through bone and tissue. But for some patients, such as those with kidney or lung disease, this operation is too risky and TAVR is a safer treatment option. Patients who undergo TAVR have a faster recovery and shorter hospital stay than those who undergo open-heart surgery. 

What should I expect during a TAVR procedure?

Having completed more successful TAVR procedures than any other institution in Central Kentucky, the Structural Heart Program team at UK is well versed in this leading-edge treatment option. In fact, a recent study has shown that hospitals that perform high numbers of TAVR procedures also have better patient outcomes.

Before the TAVR procedure, patients are placed under general anesthesia. We then insert a catheter, or tube, into a blood vessel in either your leg or your chest. Using advanced cardiac imaging, we guide the tube into your aortic valve and insert the new valve into the old, damaged valve. Once the new valve is inflated, it helps restore proper blood flow to heart.

The entire procedure usually takes about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. After the TAVR procedure, patients typically spend one to two nights in the hospital for recovery. You may also need to take blood thinners for a specified amount of time after the procedure to prevent blood clots until your body heals completely.