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TAVR: A Minimally-Invasive Approach for Aortic Valve Replacement

Posted in Catheter Technology

According to a study conducted by researchers at the Mayo Clinic, more than 13 percent of men and women over the age of 75 have moderate to severe aortic stenosis, resulting in reduced blood flow and increasing the overall burden on the heart. That’s more than one in eight men and women facing the need for surgical valve replacement in order to restore normal valve function.

For years, valve replacement meant undergoing invasive surgical procedures to remove the old, damaged valve and replace it with a new valve. But like most other areas of medicine, heart surgery has benefited from the introduction of minimally-invasive techniques in recent years that use much smaller incisions or sometimes no external incisions at all, resulting in much faster recovery, less tissue damage and a lower risk of intraoperative and postoperative complications. For aortic stenosis patients, these advances have resulted in the introduction of transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), sometimes referred to as transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI).

What is TAVR?

Most aortic valve replacements are performed using a sternotomy to separate the sternum and gain access to the heart so the damaged valve can be replaced and normal blood flow can be restored. TAVR was developed to achieve the same benefits as a traditional valve replacement, but with very small external incisions or, in some cases, no external incisions, and no need for a sternotomy. Instead, TAVR uses techniques that are similar to those used in stent placement, relying on a catheter to deliver a fully-collapsible replacement valve to the damaged aorta. Unlike traditional valve surgery, TAVR does not remove the damaged valve, but instead positions the new valve within the existing aortic valve. Once the new valve is deployed, it expands and pushes the old valve’s leaflets aside, taking over the function of the old, damaged aorta to control and regulate blood flow.

The TAVR Procedure

TAVR may be performed using one of two approaches, depending on the needs of the patient:

  • a transfemoral approach, which passes the catheter containing the valve through the femoral artery without need for an incision in the chest wall, or
  • through a small incision in the chest wall, which allows the catheter to be passed through an artery or through the apex of the heart at the tip of the left ventricle (referred to as a transapical approach).

Is TAVR right for everyone?

TAVR is a relatively new procedure, and currently, the FDA has approved it for patients with moderate to severe symptomatic aortic stenosis who are not considered good candidates for traditional valve replacement procedures. The use of smaller incisions means patients can experience a recovery period similar to that associated with angiography and stent placement, including a shorter hospital stay. And because it’s less invasive, TAVR can be a good option for many older patients who have comorbidities that might make traditional valve replacement procedures too risky.

Learn more about TAVR catheters.

Like any other catheter-based procedure, the success of TAVR rests largely on using the right catheter, one that’s specifically designed using top-quality materials to access the damaged heart valve and to deploy the new valve. Via Biomedical is a global leader in the design and manufacture of catheters, including catheters used in TAVR procedures, with an established reputation and a deep commitment to the highest production and quality assurance standards. To learn more about Via Biomedical’s products or to request a quote, visit the Via Biomedical website, connect with us via LinkedIn or send an email to viasales@viabiomedical.com.

Via Biomedical is a Global Leader in the Design and Manufacture of Catheters