TAVR - Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement

What is a Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR)?

TAVR is a heart valve replacement option for people with severe aortic stenosis who may not qualify for open aortic valve replacement surgery.

The procedure resembles a balloon angioplasty, in which a catheter - a long, flexible tube - is threaded through an artery and a balloon device on the end inflates to help open up a narrowing in an artery in the heart. In the case of TAVR, the replacement valve collapses to a very small diameter and is crimped onto the balloon device. The surgeon positions the replacement valve inside the patient's natural aortic valve and inflates the balloon. This causes the replacement valve to expand, pushing the faulty valve aside. The replacement valve begins to function as soon as the balloon catheter deflates to permit the flow of blood.

What are the advantages?

A TAVR can offer a less invasive approach for the treatment of severe aortic stenosis. Iowa Heart Center at Mercy was the first cardiovascular center in Iowa to offer two options for aortic valve replacement: the Edwards SAPIEN® Valve and the Medtronic CoreValve®.  With over 250 TAVRs having been performed, Iowa Heart Center at Mercy leads the state in the number of these procedures and is one of the top programs in the region in terms of aortic heart valve experience.

Why is TAVR now an option for low-risk patients?

In the approximately 10 years since TAVR was introduced, the procedure has become standard, with Iowa Heart Center leading in the number of procedures performed in Iowa. Patients originally treated with TAVR were not candidates for open heart surgery and considered high risk. Over time, however, the success of the TAVR technology has been demonstrated, making it a viable option for patients at lower risk as well. Iowa Heart Center was the only center in Iowa invited to participate in a clinical trial offering TAVR for low-risk patients.

How will I know if I am a candidate for a TAVR procedure?

After extensive testing, our multidisciplinary team will evaluate your results and determine the best way to treat your aortic stenosis.

What if I’ve been told I’m not a candidate for surgery?

Even if you have been told you are not a candidate for open aortic valve replacement surgery elsewhere, we will re-evaluate you to determine if you meet our criteria for surgical intervention. If not, then we will continue your evaluation for a TAVR procedure.. We will recommend the best option for you.

What is the difference between the Edwards SAPIEN Valve and the Medtronic CoreValve?

They are the same in that they both replace a narrowed (stenotic) aortic valve. They are different in their design but function essentially in the same way. The TAVRs come in different sizes and based on the results of your testing, we determine the best valve for you based on your anatomy. Everyone is different. With both valve options we can offer more choices.

Make an Appointment

To make an appointment to discuss your need for aortic valve treatment, call the Iowa Heart Center Valve Clinic at 515-633-3602.