TAVR - Aortic Valve Replacement

The Aspirus Heart & Vascular is one the first hospitals in Wisconsin to perform Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR). This advanced cardiac procedure provides new hope for highly symptomatic aortic stenosis patients who had previously been considered inoperable or high-risk for surgery.

What is Severe Aortic Stenosis?

Severe aortic stenosis is a narrowing of your aortic valve opening that does not allow normal blood flow. It can be caused by a birth defect, rheumatic fever, or radiation therapy, or can be related to age.  In older patients, it is often caused by a build-up of calcium on the aortic valve's leaflets. Over time the leaflets become stiff, reducing their ability to fully open and close. Eventually the heart gets weaker increasing the risk of heart failure.
 

How is Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) performed?

The minimally invasive TAVR procedure involves guiding a collapsible aortic heart valve through the femoral artery in the thigh via a catheter(transfemoral procedure) into the heart or, through an incision between the ribs and then through the bottom end of the heart called the apex (transapical procedure). Once it reaches the site of the diseased valve, the replacement valve is positioned and deployed across the patient's own narrowed valve. This is all done while the heart is still beating.

The transapical procedure is only available to certain high-risk patients who are not candidates for the transfemoral procedure because they do not have appropriate access through their leg artery.

The Aspirus Heart & Vascular was the first hospital in Wisconsin to perform TAVR using the new transapical approach.
 

Who is a TAVR Candidate?

Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement is an option for patients with severe aortic stenosis,  who are not candidates for traditional open heart surgery or are at high-risk for surgey. Because TAVR is done without cardiopulmonary bypass it is most beneficial for high-risk older patients, or those who are too ill with other health problems.

Patients must meet strict criteria to be qualified for TAVR.  Eligibility screening starts with an evaluation by a team of cardiologists, surgeons, cardiac nurses and imaging specialists at the Aspirus Heart & Vascular Institute Valve Clinic.  The TAVR qualification assessment also includes testing such as heart catheterization, a CT of the chest, abdomen & pelvis, and transesophageal echocardiogram, in which an ultrasound probe is inserted into the esophagus (feeding pipe) and stomach, for a better look at the heart and aortic valve.
 

Who Can I Talk To Find Out if TAVR is Right for Me?

If you think you might be a qualified candidate for Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement  (TAVR), please call the Valve Clinic at the Aspirus Heart & Vascular at 877.974.3571 or email us at valveclinic@aspirus.org. You will hear back from the Clinic nurse within one business day.