The TAVR device is deployed through a catheter to inflate a balloon that opens the new valve. Photo: Lisa Worthley
UCLA performed its first transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) in August, using a new device approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to replace an aortic valve in a patient who was not a candidate for open-heart surgery.
Although minimally invasive surgical procedures have been used on the aortic valve in the past, these operations relied on incisions in the chest wall and required cardiopulmonary bypass. The TAVR allows doctors for the first time to replace the aortic valve without either of these components of conventional surgery.
Many patients are not good candidates for conventional valve replacement because they suffer from a number of other health issues, and it is estimated that 40 percent of patients do not undergo aortic-valve replacement because they cannot tolerate surgery.
The new device is deployed through a catheter - a long tube that is advanced through an artery in the groin up to the heart. Once the valve is in place, a balloon at the end of the catheter is inflated, opening the new valve, which starts working instantly. Studies have shown the new valve procedure dramatically improves quality of life and survival rates.
A recent randomized clinical study showed a significantly higher one-year survival rate among patients treated with the new valve, compared with those who received medical therapy.
"We expect to see substantial quality-of-life gains from this new procedure," says Richard J. Shemin, M.D., chief of cardiothoracic surgery. "Many patients who were formerly bedridden will be able to resume a more normal life with this novel new therapy."
For more information about the TAVR procedure at UCLA and to view a video, go to: heart.ucla.edu/tavr