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The aortic valve is located between the pumping chamber on the left side of the heart and the aorta, which is a major artery. The aorta carries oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the rest of the body. The valve should be closed while the heart is filling with blood. When the heart chamber squeezes to push blood into the aorta, the valve should open fully to allow blood flow.
Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) is a means of replacing your aortic valve that is narrowed by a method which is much less invasive than traditional aortic valve replacement surgery.
TAVR allows physicians to replace a severely narrowed aortic valve due to aortic stenosis without a conventional chest incision.
Aortic stenosis is a condition that results from narrowing of the aortic valve in the heart. When this narrowing occurs it can put increased stress and pressure on the heart muscle. This can lead to many symptoms, including chest discomfort or pain, shortness of breath, leg swelling, fatigue, or fainting. Left untreated, the heart muscle can weaken over time resulting in worsening of symptoms and premature death. The most common cause of aortic stenosis is degenerative (age related calcium deposits).
If you are planning to have a valve replacement, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:
Some factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
Before your procedure you will meet with one or more of the physicians to discuss your history. You will then likely be referred for further testing which may help determine if the TAVR procedure is right for you. This testing may include:
Talk to your doctor about your medication. You may need to stop taking certain medication for one week before surgery, such as:
Your doctor may also ask you to:
TAVR is done with general anesthesia. You will be asleep.
The two most common approaches for the TAVR procedure are:
You will be monitored in an intensive care unit after surgery. When you wake up, you will notice that you are attached to a number of devices, including:
The surgery can take anywhere from 2 to 4 hours.
Anesthesia will block pain during the surgery. You will be given pain medicine to help manage the pain after the surgery.
The usual length of stay is 5 to 7 days. The length of stay will depend on your overall health and your recovery progress. Your doctor may choose to keep you longer if complications occur.
At the Hospital
You will be taken to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) after your TAVR, where you will be cared for by skilled critical care physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, nurses, therapists and technicians. Once you are awake and able to breathe on your own, the breathing tube will be removed. The nurses will assist you with coughing, deep breathing and getting out of bed. These are important keys to your recovery. When you are ready to leave the ICU you will move to a hospital bed for your continued recovery.
It is very likely that you will go to a short term rehabilitation facility. The facility will be determined by your medical needs in conjunction with a social worker, you and your family. At rehab the focus is to regain your physical strength and to return you to your everyday activities. While at rehab, nurse practitioners from our TAVR team will be in contact with the health care providers at the rehabilitation facility to assess your progress and provide continuity of care.
It is important for you to remember that the full recovery from your TAVR will take many months. Some patients tend to get discouraged when they have an occasional “bad” day. This is to be expected, and you may experience some setbacks during your recovery. All patients take their own course, and some make faster or slower progress than others. Most patients have improvement of symptoms in four to six weeks. A brief readmission to the hospital may be necessary for closer monitoring during your recovery.
When to Call Your Surgeon
After you leave the hospital, contact your surgeon if any of the following occurs:
In case of an emergency, call for medical help right away.
To learn more about how we can help you, contact us. We’ll return your call the same day and can secure you an appointment with one of our doctors within the week.
Request an appointment online or call 617-789-2045.
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