Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR)
Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) is a valuable option for patients with severe aortic stenosis who are not candidates for open-heart surgical Aortic Valve Replacement (AVR). The Maine Medical Center Cardiovascular Institute is the only hospital performing this procedure in the state.
What is Severe Aortic Stenosis?
Severe aortic stenosis is a narrowing of the aortic valve that prevents blood from flowing through the valve freely. This can be caused by a birth defect, radiation therapy, rheumatic fever, or age.
In elderly patients, calcium deposits can build up on the aortic valve, making it difficult for the heart to push blood through. This weakens the heart, which causes it to work poorly and provide less oxygen to the body.
|Healthy Aortic Valve
|The leaflets of a healthy aortic heart valve open wide to allow oxygenated blood to flow freely through the valve into the aorta where it flows out to the rest of the body.
||The leaflets of a narrowed aortic heart valve are unable to open wide, blocking blood flow through the valve into the aorta. As a result, less oxygen-rich blood is pumped out to the body. This may cause symptoms like shortness of breath, dizziness, or chest pain.
How does TAVR help Severe Aortic Stenosis?
In TAVR, a new valve is implanted inside the patient's own narrowed valve. As a result, blood flow through the heart and body increases.
What happens during the TAVR procedure?
The TAVR doctors pass a small balloon through an artery in the leg up into the narrowed valve. When the balloon is inflated, it opens up the narrowed valve to make room for the new valve. The balloon is then removed and the new valve is passed up into the patient's valve. The new valve has a balloon inside. When the balloon is inflated, the new valve opens up and is wedged inside the old valve. View this animation for further details.
Who is a candidate for the procedure?
Patients with severe aortic stenosis who are not candidates for traditional valve replacement surgery may be able to undergo the TAVR procedure. Patients undergo evaluation at the Maine Heart Valve Center to determine if they are candidates for TAVR.
Maine Heart Valve Center
The Maine Heart Valve Center is a new partnership of imaging cardiologists, interventional cardiologists and cardiac surgeons who will evaluate patients for AVR, TAVR, or medical therapy. They then make their recommendation to referring physicians and their patients.
The FDA has approved TAVR only for patients who have an unacceptably high risk for standard surgical AVR. The team at the Maine Heart Valve Center is available to help determine if TAVR is an option.
Patient brochure (.pdf) - For a copy of this brochure, please call The Maine Heart Valve Center Coordinator at (207) 662-4897.
Physician referral to the Maine Heart Valve Center is required, but the Center Coordinator is available to answer questions from patients.
- If a patient is in the early process of evaluation, refer to the cardiologist or cardiac surgeon you would normally use. They may refer the patient for surgical AVR or to the Maine Heart Valve Center.
- If the patient has already been evaluated with echoes and cardiac catherization data, refer the patient directly to the Maine Heart Valve Center.
Maine Heart Valve Center Coordinator
Claire M. Berg, MS, RN