Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement is a type of procedure to treat aortic valve stenosis. Aortic valve stenosis occurs when there is a narrowing of the aortic valve in the heart. When the aortic valve becomes narrow, the valve is no longer able to fully open. This leads to an obstruction of blood from the heart to the aorta and throughout the rest of the body.
When there is an obstruction in the aortic valve, this means that the heart needs to work harder to pump blood throughout the rest of the body. Over time, this additional stress placed on the heart reduces the amount of blood that it is able to pump out. This results in a weakened heart muscle. When aortic valve stenosis becomes severe, the valve will most likely need to be replaced.
Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement is the most common type of treatment for aortic valve stenosis. This type of treatment has traditionally been performed with open-heart surgery, but this is now a less invasive approach. The procedure involves replacing the aortic valve with a prosthetic valve via the femoral artery in your leg, otherwise known as the transfemoral artery, or the left ventricular apex of your heart.
During a transcatheter aortic valve replacement, the doctor inserts a catheter with a balloon at the tip in an artery in your leg or in a small incision in your chest. The catheter is then guided to the heart and placed into then aortic valve. The balloon at the tip of the catheter has a folded valve around it which is then inflated. The balloon works by pushing the aortic valve open and stretching the valve open while expanding the folded valve into the aortic valve. Afterwards, the balloon is deflated and the catheter and balloon are then guided back out of the body.
Transcatheter aortic valve replacement is most commonly for people who are suffering from a severe case of aortic valve stenosis. These people are at an increased risk of complications from aortic valve surgery. This minimally invasive procedure can improve severe aortic valve stenosis and its symptoms in people who are at increased risk of complications from aortic valve surgery. This type of procedure does come with risks though. Transcatheter aortic valve replacement has a higher risk of stroke and vascular complications compared to aortic valve replacement surgery.