Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR)

Millions of Americans over age 65 suffer from aortic stenosis, or narrowing of the aortic valve, which is one of the four main valves in the heart. Many of these people are not eligible for traditional open heart surgery to repair it due to age or other health concerns. As an alternative, patients with aortic stenosis who face a moderate or high risk from open heart surgery may be suited for a transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) procedure. TAVR eliminates the need for open heart surgery and offers a shorter recovery time, with less risk to patients.

TAVR is considered a “minimally invasive” method of replacing malfunctioning heart valves, because it does not require large incisions (cuts) or the use of a heart-lung machine (known as cardiopulmonary bypass). In a special operating room with both surgical and X-ray capabilities, a guide wire is inserted into the body through the groin or a small incision between the ribs and then is guided to the malfunctioning valve. The new valve is compressed and attached to a tiny, flexible tube called a catheter, and – using guidance from X-rays – the catheter is positioned inside the malfunctioning valve, then the new valve is expanded in place to replace it.

Why UAB

UAB Medicine is Alabama’s leader in the minimally invasive TAVR procedure. We were the first hospital in the state to perform one, and we’ve now completed more than 2,300. In 2022, we completed our first procedure using the self-expanding Evolut FX TAVR system, which provides greater precision and control than previous TAVR systems. We were among the first hospitals in the nation to use this new technology.

Our cardiology and heart surgery programs are consistently ranked among the best of their kind in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, which also ranks our TAVR program as “high-performing” – the highest designation possible. Thanks to our expertise and experience, UAB Medicine’s TAVR patients enjoy lower mortality rates and shorter hospital stays compared to the national averages. People who’ve been told by non-UAB Medicine doctors that they need traditional valve surgery can get a second opinion from one of our valve surgeons, to determine if TAVR may be right for them.

The highly experienced surgeons and cardiologists at UAB Medicine provide a comprehensive approach to diagnosing and treating valve disease. Our reputation as a leader in aortic valve disease was strengthened in 2018 when Chief of Cardiovascular Surgery James E. Davies Jr., MD, became the first in the southeast to implant the Edwards Inspiris heart valve. Made of specially treated bovine (cow) tissue that may help it last longer, this revolutionary valve also has an expandable frame that allows for future procedures such as TAVR. This means that if a patient needs to have the valve replaced later in life, open surgery would not be required again, making this type of heart valve ideal for younger patients. The Edwards Inspiris heart valve is a perfect example of how traditional surgical and transcatheter methods such as TAVR can work together to provide our patients with the highest quality of care throughout their lifetime.

Contact Us

To speak with someone directly about your case or schedule a TAVR evaluation, please call 205-975-1888 or email Laura Raye Byrd at lrbyrd@uabmc.edu.

 

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