Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement Therapy

Doctors feed a small catheter through the groin to the heart to replace a faulty aortic valve.
Doctors feed a small catheter through the groin to the heart to replace a faulty aortic valve.

For patients experiencing severe aortic stenosis, Sharp offers several treatment options including “open heart” surgery and the new minimally invasive transcatheter aortic valve replacement therapy (TAVR).

What Is Aortic Stenosis?
In elderly patients, severe aortic stenosis is often caused by the build-up of calcium (mineral deposits) on the aortic valve’s leaflets (flaps of tissue that open and close to regulate the one-way flow of blood through the aortic valve). This build-up of calcium damages the aortic valve’s ability to fully open and close. As a result, the narrowed valve allows less oxygen-rich blood to flow from the lungs to the brain and rest of the body and may cause symptoms like severe shortness of breath and extreme fatigue.

What Is Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement?
While “open-heart” aortic valve replacement surgery is the gold standard treatment for severe aortic valve stenosis, there are patients who are not candidates for “open-heart” surgery. Some patients may be unable to undergo traditional surgery because of factors such as age, history of heart disease, frailty or other health issues. Caregivers from Sharp Memorial Hospital's Heart Valve Surgery Center will conduct a comprehensive evaluation of those patients to determine if TAVR may be an appropriate alternative.

The procedure allows interventional cardiologists to replace a diseased aortic heart valve by placing a balloon-expandable heart valve into the body through a catheter inserted through a small incision in the thigh. While minimally invasive, all surgeries carry risks that you should weigh with your doctor.

For More Information
For more information about TAVR at Sharp, send us an email and a cardiac specialist will contact you directly. To find a Sharp-affiliated doctor, search for a San Diego heart valve specialist or call 1-800-82-SHARP (1-800-827-4277), Monday through Friday, 8 am to 6 pm. To find general information about heart and vascular care, visit Cardiovascular Diseases in Adult Health or read the Heart and Cardiovascular News archive.