Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR)

Artificial valve, real innovations

What is TAVR?

Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) is a minimally invasive procedure that can treat severe aortic valve stenosis. This procedure replaces a narrowed aortic valve with an artificial valve via a catheter inserted through a blood vessel in your leg or chest. 

TAVR is a less-invasive alternative to open-heart surgery, offering a quicker recovery with reduced pain. Our cardiac teams are renowned for pioneering advancements in TAVR, including the development of an improved technique that's been adopted worldwide.

Who's a candidate?

Anyone with valve disease may be considered for TAVR, including those considered very high risk. TAVR may be a treatment option for you if you:

  • have been diagnosed with severe aortic stenosis
  • have symptoms of aortic stenosis, such as chest pain, shortness of breath or fainting
  • are not a candidate for traditional surgical aortic valve replacement
  • are at high risk for complications from traditional surgical aortic valve replacement

If you're considering TAVR, your doctor will evaluate your individual case to determine if it's right for you.

What to expect

Before the procedure:

  • You'll undergo a thorough evaluation for valve replacement, which may include many tests, scans and dental clearance.
  • A multidisciplinary team will review your case to determine the best possible approach and surgery type for your individual needs.

During the procedure:

  • The TAVR procedure typically lasts about 60 to 90 minutes.
  • You may be asleep or sedated during the procedure for your comfort.
  • Our heart specialist inserts a thin, flexible tube called a catheter into a blood vessel in your upper leg (groin) or chest.
  • They guide the catheter through the blood vessels and into your heart.
  • They insert the replacement valve, made of tissue and metal, through the catheter and into the damaged valve.
  • The new valve will expand and work in place of the old valve.

After the procedure:

  • Your doctors and nurses will watch you closely to check how the new valve is working.
  • You can probably return home the day after your procedure.
  • Recovery time is typically minimal. Generally, you can get back to your full activity level within a week or so.
  • Your doctor may recommend that you attend a cardiac rehab program to help you recover and prevent future problems with your heart.
  • You may receive a prescription for aspirin or another blood thinner to prevent blood clots.
  • You'll have regular check-ups with your doctor to track your progress.

Benefits of TAVR

TAVR is a minimally invasive procedure that can improve your quality of life if you're living with aortic valve stenosis. Everyone's situation is different, but common benefits include:

  • Feeling better: TAVR can help you feel better by reducing symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain and fatigue. With fewer symptoms, you can enjoy activities that were previously difficult or impossible.
  • Living longer: TAVR can help you live longer. Studies have shown that TAVR can reduce the risk of death from aortic stenosis by up to 50%. A longer life can mean spending more time with loved ones, enjoying retirement or other activities that are meaningful to you.
  • Recovering quicker: Compared with traditional open-heart surgery, TAVR offers a quicker recovery time because it is a minimally invasive procedure. A faster recovery means you can get back to your usual activities more quickly and with less pain.

We're leaders in TAVR

Before the TAVR procedure existed, open-heart surgery was the only option for people with severe aortic stenosis. The minimally invasive TAVR approach, which became widely available in 2011, allowed surgeons to replace the diseased valve with an expandable valve through a catheter. 

Led by Dr. Harvey, the WellSpan Health team began exploring avenues for improvement, because an average of 25 percent of people needed a pacemaker following the procedure.

“The way the valve went in and where it was deployed could interact with the conduction system of the heart,” Dr. Harvey says. “In some cases, there wouldn’t be optimal hemodynamics, which meant the valve wasn’t opening as well as we would like.”

In collaboration with a team at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, the WellSpan Health team developed a new technique for the TAVR approach that reduced the need for a pacemaker to as low as 3 percent. 

This technique has now become a best practice throughout the U.S., Canada and Europe, with WellSpan Health’s cardiologists teaching other specialists around the world through in-person training and live video demonstrations.

World-class care, close to home

We're home to the world's leading experts in TAVR, so you can receive the finest minimally invasive cardiac care without traveling far from home.

Proven results

Our TAVR program has a 99 percent success rate, and our patients experience excellent long-term outcomes. We're proud to offer this life-changing procedure.

Personalized care

We understand that everyone is unique, so we tailor your TAVR care plan to meet your individual needs. Our team will work with you to develop a plan that's right for you, and we'll be there to support you every step of the way.