TAVR Heart Valve Procedure Offers New Options

June 21, 2012 -- Heart specialists at Rex Healthcare, part of UNC Health Care, are offering a new procedure to repair heart valves.

TAVR Heart Valve Procedure Offers New Options click to enlarge TAVR, in which a device is inserted to open the aortic valve, was approved by the FDA in late 2011.

Trans-catheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) provides an option for people who are unable to undergo traditional valve replacement, which involves open heart surgery.

The aorta is the major blood vessel of the heart. Sometimes the opening of the aortic valve becomes too narrow - aortic stenosis, or aortic valve stenosis - and blood does not flow easily. When the opening is narrow, the heart has to pump harder to push blood throughout the body, and the patient can feel tired or dizzy.

Most patients who have aortic stenosis need to have the valve replaced. While traditional valve replacement surgery is still the best option for fixing the problem, some patients are too weak or sick to undergo open heart surgery. TAVR is a new option for these patients.

In TAVR, a minimally invasive procedure, a stent is threaded through a catheter into the valve to open the valve.

WRAL TV recently broadcast a report about the procedure. To see the WRAL report, click here.

To learn more about the procedure and the UNC Rex Healthcare Heart Valve Center, click here.

- Margaret Alford Cloud, UNC Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery