Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) at St. Jude

At St. Jude, patients with severe aortic stenosis are benefitting from a minimally invasive approach to valve replacement called transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR).

By eliminating the need for open heart surgery, TAVR offers important advantages to patients – especially those considered intermediate or high risk for traditional valve replacement – and brings new hope to those deemed ineligible for surgery due to age or medical condition.

A traditional valve replacement requires the chest to be surgically opened. With TAVR, a collapsible artificial aortic valve is inserted into the heart via a catheter, requiring only a small incision in the thigh or groin. The catheter – a thin, flexible tube – is threaded through the femoral artery to the heart and the replacement valve is inserted inside the existing damaged valve. Once the new valve is expanded, it pushes the old valve leaflets out of the way and immediately takes over the job of regulating the heart’s blood flow. This minimally-invasive procedure is performed while the heart is still beating, eliminating the need for cardiopulmonary bypass.

  • Minimally invasive (no chest incision)
  • Shorter recovery
  • Significantly less pain
  • Performed without stopping the heart (no need for cardiopulmonary bypass)
  • Immediate improvement in symptoms and quality of life

Originally FDA-approved only for high-risk surgical patient, the FDA recently cleared the use of TAVR for both moderate and low risk patients. In a recent U.S. randomized trial, aortic valve stenosis patients receiving only medical therapy had a one-year survival rate of 50 percent; with TAVR, one-year survival rates increased to over 70 percent.

Aortic valve stenosis is a life-threatening condition in which the valves that regulate the heart’s blood flow lose their ability to open and close, causing less blood to reach the brain, lungs and other vital organs. The resulting symptoms include chest pain or chest tightness, heart palpitations, fatigue and shortness of breath.

Determining which procedure or treatment will achieve the best outcome can be complex and at St. Jude, we involve experts from multiple specialties – including interventional cardiology and cardiothoracic surgery – in evaluating each patient.

Recognized as one of America’s 100 Best Hospitals for Cardiac Care, we offer patients the full range of treatment options for valve disease, as well as the expertise and clinical outcomes created by a unique focus and commitment.

St. Jude is also home to one of the state’s most sophisticated surgical settings, including a state-of-the-art “hybrid” cardiovascular suite that allows our interventional cardiologists, radiologists and cardiothoracic surgeons to work together in one room to successfully treat complex or high risk conditions. This cutting-edge suite combines the diagnostic power of 4D imaging with both minimally invasive interventions and traditional open-surgery techniques in the same procedure – giving our surgeons and cardiologists unprecedented flexibility in real time to do what’s best for the patient.

Not all patients can benefit from transcatheter aortic valve replacement and in most cases, TAVR is used with patients considered a moderate or high risk surgical candidate.

To determine if you are a candidate for TAVR, talk to your cardiologist.