CHI Health was the first in the region to perform transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) - the first in Nebraska was done at CHI Health Nebraska Heart. This new treatment is for patients with severe aortic stenosis (narrowing of the heart valve) who, because of multiple co-morbidities, are not well enough or at high risk for traditional open heart surgery. Up until now, the only treatment for severe aortic stenosis has been open heart aortic valve replacement surgery.
This less invasive procedure is done through a small incision in the groin using a catheter to transport the valve to the heart and then deploy without any incision in the chest wall. This is the transfemoral approach. If the arteries of the groin are too small then we must do a transapical approach and make a small incision under the left breast area to place the valve with a catheter. The TAVR procedure is designed to replace the patient's diseased valve while the heart continues to beat – eliminating the need for use of a heart-lung machine.
Benefits of TAVR
- shorter procedure
- no sternotomy
- no heart lung machine
- shorter hospital stay than open heart surgery
- quicker recovery
How can I find out if I'm eligible for TAVR?
While up to 1.5 million people in the U.S. suffer from aortic stenosis (AS), approximately 500,000 within this group of patients suffer from severe aortic stenosis. If you have severe aortic stenosis and are too sick for open heart surgery and if medicine is not improving your health, you may be eligible for TAVR. Our cardiologists will conduct a comprehensive evaluation to determine whether the procedure is an appropriate treatment option.
In certain cases, TAVR may not be an option because of co-existing medical conditions or disease processes that would prevent you from experiencing the expected benefits from the treatment or because the risks outweigh the benefits. Sometimes balloon aortic valvuloplasty can be performed to help relieve the symptoms of aortic stenosis. Your options will be discussed with you by the heart team. For those who are candidates for TAVR, this treatment may provide relief from the often debilitating symptoms associated with severe aortic stenosis.