Combining attentive, compassionate care with our extensive clinical and research resources, UT Southwestern's cardiology experts and vascular specialists deliver individualized care within pre-eminent health care facilities.
Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement
Recognized by U.S. News & World Report
UT Southwestern Medical Center earned High Performing recognition for aortic valve surgery from U.S. News & World Report for 2020-21, placing us among the country’s leading hospitals for this procedure.
UT Southwestern Medical Center’s Department of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery is among a distinguished group of U.S. centers that offers transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), a pioneering minimally invasive treatment for patients with severe aortic stenosis.
Experts in Minimally Invasive Approaches to Aortic Stenosis
Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) is a leading-edge, minimally invasive procedure for patients with severe symptomatic aortic stenosis, a narrowing of the heart's aortic valve that obstructs blood flow to the body. People with severe aortic stenosis suffer from reduced oxygen flow to the body and poor quality of life.
An alternative to open-heart aortic valve replacement, TAVR is performed by using a catheter, usually inserted through the groin, to replace the aortic valve. Patients can be back on their feet and enjoying life just a few days after the procedure.
TAVR has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use in patients not eligible for traditional aortic valve surgery due to factors such as age, certain other medical conditions, and previous open-heart surgery, or who are at high or intermediate risk of complications during traditional surgery.
UT Southwestern is one of an elite group of U.S. centers that offers the sophisticated TAVR procedure.
While we offer traditional aortic valve replacement for people who are not candidates for less invasive procedures like TAVR, we strive to perform minimally invasive surgeries whenever possible. In most cases, our heart specialists can replace damaged aortic valves without open surgery, which significantly reduces patients’ pain and recovery time.
UT Southwestern also offers a dedicated Cardiac Rehabilitation Program. Cardiac rehabilitation is a critical component of recovery and can prevent future heart disease.
Our heart valve experts, interventional cardiologists, and cardiothoracic surgeons carefully evaluate all patients to determine the most appropriate treatments for each person’s unique medical condition, preferences, and health goals.
Patients who meet TAVR criteria typically have factors that include:
- Severe aortic stenosis
- Shortness of breath (dyspnea) or heart failure
- Angina (chest pain originating in the heart)
- Syncope (fainting) or pre-syncope
- High risk of mortality or morbidity with traditional surgical valve replacement because of:
What to Expect
The surgeon provides specific instructions to the patient before the TAVR procedure, including risks such as bleeding, infection, or adverse reaction to anesthesia.
Patients also meet with the anesthesiologist prior to the surgery to review their medical history. TAVR can be performed with the patient completely asleep or under moderate sedation, depending on the patient’s other illnesses and preferences. Patients should not eat after midnight the night before the surgery.
On the day of surgery, the patient arrives at the hospital, registers, and changes into a hospital gown. A nurse reviews the patient’s charts to make sure there are no problems.
After surgery, patients are taken to the intensive care unit and monitored. Pain is likely, and pain medication is given as appropriate. Patients might also be on a respirator for up to a day after the surgery.
The length of the hospital stay depends on how quickly the patient is able to recover and perform some physical activity.
As one of the nation’s top academic medical centers, UT Southwestern offers a number of clinical trials aimed at improving the outcomes of patients with cardiovascular disease.
For example, clinical trials are currently ongoing in moderate-risk patients.
Clinical trials often give patients access to leading-edge treatments that are not yet widely available. Eligible patients who choose to participate in one of UT Southwestern’s clinical trials can receive treatments years before they are available to the public.