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Why Choose Penn Medicine

As early adopters of transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), Penn cardiologists and surgeons have used this catheter-based treatment longer and more often than anyone in the Philadelphia region. We complete more than 600 TAVR procedures a year. Our expertise and experience make us one of the top five TAVR programs in the country.

Researchers at Penn Medicine are leaders in TAVR clinical trials to improve and expand the use of this procedure. Through the Penn Heart Valve Disease Program, patients access clinical trials that include innovative nonsurgical treatments and techniques not offered elsewhere in the area.

TAVR Treatment Overview 

Transcatheter aortic valve replacement is a minimally invasive procedure that relies on a catheter (a thin, flexible tube) to replace diseased heart valves. Interventional cardiologists and cardiac surgeons offer TAVR as an option for both low-risk patients and those who are not candidates for traditional open-chest valve replacement surgery, including:

  • Patients with aortic stenosis, or narrowing of the aortic valve.
  • Select patients with bicuspid aortic valve disease (BAVD) who also have aortic stenosis.
  • Patients with a previous surgical aortic valve replacement, who have valve degeneration. When used this way, the treatment may also be called a valve-in-valve procedure.

TAVR Procedure: What to Expect

During TAVR, a team of interventional cardiologists, cardiac surgeons, imaging specialists and cardiac anesthesiologists work together to safely replace your aortic valve. You’ll be under general anesthesia or conscious sedation for one to two hours while your valve is replaced. During the TAVR procedure, your physician:

  • Inserts a catheter into the femoral artery in your groin.
  • Uses advanced imaging to guide the catheter to the aorta.
  • Places the new, compressed biological heart valve (made from human or animal tissue) on the catheter and positions it inside your diseased aortic valve.
  • Expands the valve to secure it in place.
  • Removes the catheter from your blood vessel.

Our cardiac team closely monitors your recovery and comfort. Expect to spend approximately one to three days in the hospital. You may need to continue taking certain medications, including blood-thinning medications, after valve replacement.

Benefits of TAVR

Replacing your aortic valve with TAVR has benefits compared to open-chest valve replacement, including:

  • Less pain
  • Shorter recovery
  • Rapid improvement of aortic stenosis symptoms
  • Fewer medical complications, including reduced chance of stroke and death
  • Return to normal activity in as little as one week

Keeping You Safe During TAVR 

Like any cardiac procedure, TAVR is associated with some risk. The most concerning risk is post-TAVR stroke, which affects up to 3 percent of patients. During the TAVR procedure, calcium build-up and other debris can break loose, travel to the brain and potentially cause stroke.

To protect patients from stroke associated with TAVR, the cardiac team at Penn uses the Sentinel Cerebral Protection System (CPS) during TAVR procedures. This innovative, FDA-approved device filters and captures the debris released during TAVR, resulting in a 38 percent reduction in stroke risk.

Cardiac Rehabilitation After TAVR

Your cardiologist may recommend cardiac rehabilitation after your TAVR procedure. Our outpatient program focuses on getting you back to daily activities by offering exercise, nutrition, education and support.

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