Transcatheter aortic valve replacement, or TAVR, is a treatment for aortic valve stenosis, which is a narrowing of the aortic valve, as shown here. The stenosis is caused by valve leaflets that are thickened (or calcified) and fused. The view from above shows the valve opening is smaller than normal. The diseased leaflets cannot move correctly, resulting in poor blood flow through the valve and causing pressure to build in the left ventricle. This can damage or weaken the heart muscle over time.
A 3D CT scan is performed in advance to help plan and map out the procedure. During the procedure, a guide wire is inserted through a small incision — usually into an artery of the leg — advanced to the aorta and passed through the stenotic valve.
A special catheter that contains a collapsed replacement valve is then inserted.
Once the physician has the new valve positioned correctly within the diseased valve, the heart is sometimes paced. Pacing makes the heart beat so fast it cannot pump blood for a few seconds thereby allowing safe and effective valve deployment. To deploy the valve, two techniques are commonly used. In one, the catheter is pulled back and the valve expands into place and in the other, a balloon expands the valve.
After valve expansion, pacing is turned off, and the heart beats normally.
With the new heart valve working properly, blood flows freely out of the heart, and the catheter and guidewire are then removed.
Ask your healthcare team for more details.
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