Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR)
TAVR is a minimally invasive procedure to replace the aortic valve in patients with severe aortic stenosis, a narrowing of the aortic valve that restricts blood flow. Left untreated, aortic stenosis can result in many symptoms and even death. This state-of-the-art surgical procedure combines the expert skills of interventional cardiology and cardiac surgery with advanced imaging technology to replace damaged heart valves without opening the chest.
During the procedure, a tightly collapsed prosthetic valve is guided through an artery, typically accessed through a small incision in the patient’s leg, to the heart. Once in place, the new valve is opened and the damaged valve is pushed aside. Once open, the new valve begins working immediately. The total surgery time is typically two hours or less and recovery generally takes a few weeks.
To learn more about the procedure, watch the American Heart Association’s animation here.
Who is a good candidate for TAVR?
Currently, TAVR is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for all patients with severe, symptomatic aortic stenosis, regardless of surgical risk. These patients are typically older or have other medical conditions, such as severe lung disease or prior open heart surgeries, which may interfere with recovery.
Patients with a low risk of complications are still treated with open heart surgery; however, due to its minimally invasive approach and outcomes, TAVR is expected to be the standard approach for valve replacement for all patients in the future.
Preparation and Recovery
The TAVR program at CaroMont Heart & Vascular is comprised of a multi-disciplinary team of expert interventional cardiologists, surgeons, anesthesiologists and imaging clinicians. Patients can expect an in-depth assessment by the cardiac team to determine the severity of their aortic stenosis and eligibility for TAVR. Each week, the team evaluates cases that may benefit from the procedure, ensuring several structural cardiology experts review each patient’s treatment plan.
After surgery, patients are admitted to CaroMont Regional Medical Center for monitoring. Most patients spend two days in the hospital and then return for a regular, in-office follow-up at CaroMont Heart & Vascular.
For patients: To schedule an appointment, call us at 704.834.3278 or for more information, email us at TAVR@caromonthealth.org.
For providers: For questions or to make an appointment, contact Kelly Harris, ACNP-BC, AACC, Structural Cardiology Program Coordinator at 704.671.6074 or email at TAVR@caromonthealth.org.
Step 1: Preparing for Your Visit
Once you have scheduled your visit, our Nurse Navigator will be your point of contact throughout your journey. They will share an itinerary and visitor information to help you plan your visit. Depending on the testing and the number of physicians you are seeing, you may need to plan to be at CaroMont Health for the entire day. Your nurse navigator can also answer any questions you have such as what to expect, how early to arrive and how to prepare for your procedure. Map your route by visiting our locations page for address information.
Step 2: The Day of Your Appointment
Our clinic is offers a convenient patient experience that groups all necessary pre-procedural assessments, including a frailty screening, lab work and pre-procedure testing (which may include carotid ultrasound, pulmonary function screening and a CT scan). You may also need to be scheduled for a cardiac catheterization at a later date. A volunteer will help escort you to and from your testing areas.
You will also meet with our Structural Cardiologist, Structural Nurse Practitioner/Coordinator, Cardiothoracic surgeon and nurse navigator. They will conduct a thorough examination and review your records, condition, imaging studies and treatment options with you. Our interactive consult rooms provide multiple teaching tools for your physician to review your medical images. You can also learn more about specific surgical techniques and medical concepts.
Together we will design a personalized treatment plan for you.
Step 3: During Your Procedure or Hospital Stay
We request that you arrive one hour prior to your appointment on the day of your procedure. During the procedure, your family or caregiver will be asked to wait in the Surgery Waiting Area and will receive updates during your procedure.
Prior to leaving the hospital, the Structural Nurse Practitioner/Coordinator will thoroughly review your discharge instructions with you, ensuring you understand the necessary medications and care you'll need while recovering at home.
Step 4: During Your Recovery
Our goal is for patients to return home able to care for themselves independently, but you should have a caregiver available for the first two weeks following the procedure. The Structural Cardiologist and Nurse Practitioner will share your procedure records with your referring physician or cardiologist. To ensure your recovery is progressing on schedule, you'll have a follow-up visit with CaroMont Heart & Vascular two weeks after your procedure. Once your recovery is complete, you will return to the care of your primary cardiologist.