University of Pennsylvania Health System

Penn Health and Wellness

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

New Alternative to Open-Heart Surgery for Severe Aortic Stenosis

Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) is a promising new procedure for patients with severe aortic stenosis, a disease of the aortic valve. The aortic valve is one of four heart valves and acts as the gateway that allows blood to exit the heart and travel to the aorta and rest of the body.

As people get older, the incidence of aortic stenosis significantly increases. Older patients also commonly suffer from other conditions in addition to aortic stenosis, putting them at higher risk for complications during or after heart valve surgery, the standard treatment for valve replacement.

Until recently, patients with severe aortic stenosis who were deemed too high risk for open-heart surgery did not have many other treatment options, but that’s all changing with TAVR. As a less invasive treatment approach, TAVR involves replacing the damaged valve with a newly designed balloon-expandable valve.

The valve is placed via a catheter that is inserted through a small incision in the leg. For patients with damaged valves who were previously ineligible for valve replacement, this means new hope.

Penn Heart and Vascular was the first program in the region and one of only 23 in the nation to perform TAVR. With more than 300 procedures performed to date, Penn’s highly specialized heart team has more experience performing TAVR than anywhere else in the region.


Learn more about Penn's Heart Valve Disease Program
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