Understanding TAVR: March 25, 2019

It’s a common heart procedure that you’ve probably never heard of. “It’s becoming more and more common. We do about five or six a week on average now, sometimes more,” said Dr. Brian Hummel, a cardiothoracic surgeon with Lee Health.

TAVR-- for short--is a heart procedure to replace the aortic valve. “The actual definition is transcatheter aortic valve replacement, that’s how it became known, but it now encompasses lots of structural heart things that we do,” he explained.

Modified restrictions on TAVR have allowed more patients to qualify for the procedure. “Initially, when it was first approved in late 2011. Subsequently, they lessened the restrictions to make it medium or intermediate risk patients, and then we just completed and are part of a national study for low-risk patients,” said Dr. Hummel.

Patients diagnosed with aortic valve stenosis, which means the aortic valve does not open properly, can qualify for the minimally invasive procedure.

Patients undergo a series of tests to determine their risk and make sure they qualify for the procedure. “There’s a very long checklist of things we look at with every patient, and we qualify them on what the risk factors are” he said.

Using catheters, surgeons use minimally invasive techniques to replace the aortic valve—typically going in through the groin. A common procedure that can improve a patient’s quality of life.