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What is TAVR (Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement)?

Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) is an innovative, minimally invasive treatment for patients with severe aortic stenosis who are not candidates for open heart surgery.

How does TAVR differ from traditional heart surgery?

In conventional open-heart surgery, the damaged valve is removed and replaced with an artificial valve. This surgery requires patients to have a sternotomy incision in which the chest is surgically opened to access the aortic valve.

TAVR is a minimally invasive procedure that uses catheters in blood vessels to replace the aortic valve with a specially designed artificial valve. The new heart valve is inserted via a small incision in a major artery. Once in place, the new valve expands, pushing the diseased valve aside to increase blood flow through the heart.

Benefits of TAVR

In addition to being less invasive, there are other, significant benefits for patients who qualify for the TAVR procedure, including:

  • Less time spent in ICU
  • Shorter hospital stays
  • Lower risk of infection
  • Less trauma to the chest and heart muscle tissue
  • Quicker overall recovery time
  • Significantly lower cardiac and respiratory complications
  • One-eighth the blood loss of conventional open heart valve repair

Is the TAVR procedure right for me?

Here are some general guidelines about TAVR to help you and your doctor determine whether it is an appropriate procedure for you.

You may be a candidate for TAVR if:

  • Your aortic stenosis is severe.
  • You are experiencing symptoms including chest pain, heart failure, fainting, and irregular heart rhythms.
  • Your symptoms have not improved with medication.
  • You are not a candidate for traditional open heart surgery.

You may not be a candidate for TAVR if:

  • Your valve and blood vessels are not the right size for TAVR.
  • Your heart is too weak or you have other untreated heart problems.
  • You have problems with your aorta.
  • You have had a heart attack in the last 30 days.
  • You have a severe illness or infection.
  • You have low or intermediate risk for open heart surgery.

For patients who are not TAVR candidates, minimally invasive aortic valve replacement using a small 5cm incision in the upper chest is another option.

Your doctor is the best person to help you make the decision as to whether TAVR is a good option for you, whether it be TAVR, minimally invasive valve surgery, or conventional open heart surgery. Your doctor considers numerous factors before making a recommendation for or against TAVR. Your medical history, test results, lifestyle and personal preference all play a role.

If you are not experiencing any aortic stenosis symptoms, or have only mild symptoms, you may only require medical treatment and regular monitoring by your physician.

Why Choose Memorial Hermann for TAVR Treatment?

Researchers and clinicians at the Heart and Vascular Institute bringing groundbreaking discoveries from the laboratory to the bedside have made Memorial Hermann Heart & Vascular Institute one of the world's leading cardiovascular hospitals.

The Institute is known for its solid track record of innovation, outstanding outcomes and exceptional patient care. Memorial Hermann Heart & Vascular Institute is consistently ranked by national quality benchmarking organizations as a leader in clinical quality and patient safety. To make our services as accessible as possible to the Greater Houston area, Memorial Hermann Texas Medical Center and Memorial Hermann Southwest perform the TAVR procedure for aortic valve replacements. The two Institutes have successfully performed more than 1200 TAVR implants with great results.

Across Memorial Hermann, affiliated heart and vascular physicians treated nearly 200,000 heart and vascular patients last year alone. Our medical expertise extends from lifesaving heart attack treatment to heart rhythm disorders, treatment for advanced heart failure and complex surgeries, including the most complex vascular and heart surgeries. New minimally invasive procedures, such as TAVR, allow for life-saving interventions for people too ill for traditional open heart surgical procedures.

TAVR Clinical Study: The PARTNER III Trial

Continuing its focus on innovative health care, The Heart & Vascular Institute - Texas Medical Center is one of a limited number of sites across the country and the only site in Houston selected to participate in the PARTNER III study. This research study, in association with McGovern Medical School at UTHealth, evaluates the safety and effectiveness of the SAPIEN 3 Transcatheter Heart Valve (TAVR procedure) among low-risk patients requiring aortic valve replacement. This study is for patients who suffer from severe symptomatic aortic stenosis who are low-risk candidates for traditional open heart aortic valve replacement. The study is randomized 1:1 between TAVR and Surgical Aortic Valve Replacement. The SAPIEN 3 TAVR device is currently only FDA approved for patients who are at intermediate and high risk for aortic valve replacement. This important trial should further define the potential role of TAVR across the full spectrum of patients with severe aortic stenosis.

For more information on the PARTNER III trial, contact McGovern Medical School via email or by phone (713) 500-8828.