UT Health Tyler recently completed its 250th TAVR procedure, marking a milestone for the groundbreaking procedure.
Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) is a minimally invasive procedure to replace a worn-out aortic valve in people with aortic valve stenosis. Aortic valve stenosis (aortic stenosis) occurs when the heart's aortic valve thickens and calcifies. This prevents the valve from opening properly and limits the heart’s ability to pump blood to the rest of the body. Symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, fatigue and fainting occur when the aortic valve becomes severely stenosed (narrowed). Untreated, it often leads to heart failure and eventually death in many patients.
“Traditionally, heart valve replacement required open-heart surgery in which the chest is surgically opened with a large incision for the procedure,” said Dr. Thaddeus Tolleson, board-certified cardiologist and Chief of Cardiology at UT Health Tyler. “With TAVR, you don’t need to have your chest opened. The TAVR procedure is done by inserting a catheter, or small tube, into the femoral artery at the groin, allowing doctors to deliver a replacement valve in much the same way that a cardiac stent is inserted to open blocked arteries in the heart. This procedure does not require stopping the heart or opening the chest cavity.”
Because TAVR is much less invasive, the procedure offers many benefits to patients including the following:
• Less pain and discomfort than traditional open-heart surgery
• Shorter time in the hospital
• Faster recovery and return to normal activities
• Minimal blood loss compared with open valve repair
• Lower heart and breathing complications compared to traditional surgery
“I went to Munich, Germany in the summer of 2015 and worked with one of the pioneers of the procedure to learn it,” Dr. Tolleson said. “UT Health Tyler was the first hospital in Tyler to perform the procedure, with the first one in October 2015. To date, we have performed more than 250 TAVRs.”
All potential TAVR patients are evaluated at the UT Health East Texas Heart and Vascular Institute Heart Valve Center where they are seen by a team of doctors and specialists including a cardiologist, cardiac surgeon and imaging specialists. The team reviews each case, then meets with the patient and family to discuss all available treatment options and develop the best plan of care for each individual patient.
Talk to your cardiologist or visit UTHealthEastTexas.com/HeartCare for more information.