What is Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR)?

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: May 2024

Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) is designed to treat aortic stenosis (AS). AS is a condition in which the aortic valve becomes too narrow, disrupting blood flow from the heart to the body. AS can lead to serious health risks if left untreated.1

What is TAVR?

TAVR is a nonsurgical (minimally invasive) procedure that places a new aortic valve, usually made from animal tissue, into a damaged or diseased valve. This is sometimes called a “valve within a valve.” TAVR is also known as ​​transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI).1-3

TAVR has become the preferred method of treating aortic stenosis because of its success rate and faster recovery time. Research shows that TAVR has better short- and long-term outcomes than surgical aortic valve replacement (SAVR).3-5

TAVR has many advantages, including:3-5

  • Minimally invasive
  • Reduced pain and scarring
  • Improved health and quality of life

How does TAVR help with aortic stenosis?

TAVR helps people with AS by replacing their damaged aortic valve, allowing them to live longer, healthier lives. The success rate for TAVR is very high. Research shows that people with AS are twice as likely to get TAVR today than they were a decade ago.5

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

TAVR is performed under local anesthesia with sedation or general anesthesia. The whole procedure typically takes about 1 to 2 hours. Most people go home from the hospital within 1 to 3 days after the procedure. Over time, most people find their symptoms, overall heart function, and quality of life greatly improved.3,4

How is the TAVR procedure done?

TAVR involves threading a thin, flexible tube (catheter) through a blood vessel to the heart. The catheter is usually threaded through the femoral artery in the groin. If the femoral artery cannot be used, it may be threaded through other blood vessels in the chest or stomach. The procedure involves only a few small incisions.1-3

There is a collapsible valve inside the catheter. Once the catheter reaches the aortic valve, the surgeon places the new valve into the existing damaged valve. The new valve expands, taking over the function of the old valve to ensure proper blood flow. Once the valve is securely in place, the surgeon removes the catheter.1-3

What are the risks of TAVR?

While the chances of complications are low, there are still some risks involved with TAVR. These risks can include:2-4

  • Bleeding, stroke, or heart attack
  • Valve problems, which could require additional surgery
  • Damage to blood vessels when inserting the catheter
  • Infection
  • Heart rhythm problems requiring a pacemaker

These are not all the possible side effects of TAVR. Talk to your doctor about what to expect with TAVR. You also should call your doctor if you have any health changes that concern you before or after undergoing the TAVR procedure.

What is the recovery for TAVR like?

Recovery from TAVR is quicker than recovery from open-heart surgery. TAVR requires fewer and smaller incisions. This makes the healing time faster. Most people can return to normal activities – like working, driving, and exercising – within a few weeks.2,3

During the recovery period, you will need to follow medical advice, take any medicines as prescribed, and attend follow-up appointments to make sure the new valve is functioning well. Light physical activity is usually encouraged, but you should avoid strenuous activities until your doctor gives the green light.2

After TAVR, be sure to follow a heart-healthy lifestyle. Get regular exercise, eat a healthy diet, and do not smoke. Tell your doctor if you have any new symptoms, such as:3

  • Dizziness
  • Swelling of the ankles
  • Extreme tiredness (fatigue)
  • Signs of infection (swelling, redness, or tenderness) near the catheter site
  • Signs of internal bleeding, such as a worsening bruise at the groin access site

Call 9-1-1 if you have:3

  • Chest pain
  • Severe shortness of breath
  • Fainting
Treatment results and side effects can vary from person to person. This treatment information is not meant to replace professional medical advice. Talk to your doctor about what to expect before starting and while taking any treatment.

Join the conversation

Please read our rules before commenting.