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What is transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR)?

Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) is a form of minimally invasive surgery that does not require opening of the breastbone. It is used to treat aortic stenosis, and is also referred to as transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI).

Surgeons use TAVR when traditional surgery presents too many risks. For example, a surgeon may consider TAVR if the person has ever been diagnosed with advanced heart, lung, liver or kidney disease. It is important to know that not everyone is a candidate for this procedure.

During TAVR, the surgeon usually will access the diseased valve through a blood vessel in the leg (transfemoral) or a small incision in the chest, along the ribcage (transapical). A hollow tube (catheter) is inserted into the artery through the access point, and the surgeon will use a special kind of x-ray (fluoroscopy) to guide the catheter through the blood vessels to the heart.

Once the catheter reaches the diseased aortic valve, the replacement valve is then passed through the catheter. A balloon is expanded to press the replacement valve into place. When the surgeon is certain the new valve is securely in place, the catheter will be withdrawn from the body through the original access point.

This content originally appeared online in "The Patient Guide to Heart, Lung, and Esophageal Surgery" from the Society of Thoracic Surgery.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.