What is a TAVR? (Also called TAVI)
This minimally invasive surgical procedure repairs the valve without removing the old, damaged valve. Instead, it wedges a replacement valve into the aortic valve’s place. The surgery may be called a transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) or transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI).
Somewhat similar to a stent placed in an artery, the TAVI approach delivers a fully collapsible replacement valve to the valve site through a catheter.
Once the new valve is expanded, it pushes the old valve leaflets out of the way and the tissue in the replacement valve takes over the job of regulating blood flow.
How is TAVR or TAVI different from the standard valve replacement?
|Expandable replacement valve|
(used courtesy of Edwards Lifesciences).
Usually valve replacement requires an open heart procedure with a “sternotomy.”, in which the chest is surgically separated (open) for the procedure. The TAVR or TAVI procedures can be done through very small openings that leave all the chest bones in place, so recovery is generally much faster.
Who is a good candidate for this type of valve surgery?
Most people who have this procedure are in their 70s or 80s and often have other medical conditions that make them a better candidate for this type of surgery.
Although relatively new, TAVI can be an effective option to improve quality of life in patients who otherwise have limited choices for repair of their aortic valve.
Is there any type of financial assistance for people in need of TAVR or TAVI valve replacement who lack necessary funds or healthcare coverage for the procedure?
TAVR is approved and available for qualifying patients receiving Medicare and Medicaid. More information is available on the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) website. Learn more about healthcare laws and government programs seeking to provide affordable coverage at the HealthCare.gov website. The Heart Valve CareLine can help you navigate the insurance and medical world as it relates to your diagnosis.
This content was last reviewed on 02/18/13.